Skip to main content

Full text of "Sartre, Jean Paul Literary And Philosophical Essays ( Collier, 1962)"

See other formats

The Transcendence of the Ego 

First published in France in 1937 as a journal article, The Transcendence of the 
Ego was one of Jean-Paul Sartre's earliest philosophical publications. When it 
appeared, Sartre was still largely unknown, working as a school teacher in 
provincial France and struggling to find a publisher for his most famous fictional 
work, Nausea. 

The Transcendence of the Ego is the outcome of Sartre's intense engagement 
with the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. Here, 
as in many subsequent writings, Sartre embraces Husserl' s vision of 
phenomenology as the proper method for philosophy. But he argues that 
Husserl's conception of the self as an inner entity, 'behind' conscious experience 
is mistaken and phenomenologically unfounded. 

The Transcendence of the Ego offers a brilliant diagnosis of where Husserl 
went wrong, and a radical alternative account of the self as a product of 
consciousness, situated in the world. 

This essay introduces many of the themes central to Sartre's major work, 
Being and Nothingness: the nature of consciousness, the problem of self- 
knowledge, other minds, anguish. It demonstrates their presence and importance 
in Sartre's thinking from the very outset of his career. 

This fresh translation makes this classic work available again to students of 
Sartre, phenomenology, existentialism, and twentieth century philosophy. It 
includes a thorough and illuminating introduction by Sarah Richmond, placing 
Sartre's essay in its philosophical and historical context. 

Translated by Andrew Brown, University of Cambridge. 

Jean-Paul Sartre 

The Transcendence of the Ego 

A sketch for a phenomenological 

Translated by Andrew Brown 
With an introduction by Sarah Richmond 

London and New York 

La transcendence de I 'Ego 

© Libraire Philosophique J.Vrin, Paris, 1988 

First published 2004 
by Routledge 

2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RN 

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group 

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. 

"To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge's collection of 
thousands of eBooks please go to" 

Translation © Routledge 2004 

Introduction © Sarah Richmond 2004 

This book is supported by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 
as part of the Burgess programme headed for the French Embassy 
in London by the Institut Francais du Royanne-Uni. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or 
reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, 
mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter 
invented, including pholocopv ing and recording, or in 
am information storage or retrie\ al system, without 
permission in writing from the publishers. 

British Library Ca t i Publication Data 

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library 

ISBN 0-203-69436-8 ;Master e-book ISBN 

ISBN 0-203-34518-5 ;(Adobe eReader Format) 
ISBN 0-415-32068-2 hbk 
ISBN 0-415-32069-0 pbk 


Introduction by Sarah Richmond v 

The Transcendence of the Ego 1 

I. The I and the me 1 

II. The constitution of the Ego 12 

Conclusion 24 

Notes 3 1 

Index 42 


Sarah Richmond 

Jean-Paul Sartre's The Transcendence of the Ego (hereafter TE) first appeared as 
an article in the French academic journal, Recherches Philosophiques in 1937. It 
was among Sartre's first philosophical publications, the outcome of a period of 
intense critical engagement with the phenomenological philosophy of Edmund 
Husserl (1859-1938). Sartre had become interested in phenomenology earlier in 
the 1930s and devoted much of the year (1933/4) that he spent as a scholar in the 
French Institute in Berlin to a close study of Husserl's writings. At the time, the 
publication of TE was an event of minor significance, making available to an 
academic franco-phone readership a brief contribution by a young school-teacher 
to a debate which (although its topic — the self — was of central philosophical 
importance) was conducted here within the esoteric idiom of phenomenology. 

From today's standpoint, the historical importance of TE massively compounds 
its inherent philosophical interest, and this excellent new translation by Andrew 
Brown provides a welcome opportunity to re-examine it. TE demonstrates the 
presence in Sartre's thinking from its earliest stage of ideas which, although not 
yet consciously entertained as such, were to become central tenets within his 
existentialist philosophy. Sartre's hostility to a conception of the self as an 
'inner' entity at the core of individual human beings, playing an explanatory role 
in relation to their experience, is clearly conveyed in TE, along with his rejection 
of any psychology that trades on such a conception. Sartre's own conception of 
consciousness as 'absolute', insubstantial, and transparent is also voiced here, 
and his negative attitude towards Freudian psychoanalysis, based on its denial of 
these features, is briefly expressed. 

TE also provides the first instance in print of Sartre's attempt to define his 
relationship with one of his most important early interlocutors, Husserl. 
Recollecting, a few years later, the period in the early 1930s when he immersed 
himself in Husserl's phenomenological writings, Sartre wrote in his War Diaries 
that before he could move on to study Martin Heidegger's philosophy, he had 
first to exhaust Husserl's thinking. 'For me, moreover, to exhaust a philosophy is 
to reflect within its perspectives, and create my own private ideas at its expense, 
until I plunge into a blind alley' (Sartre 1984, pp. 183-4). TE provides an 
excellent example of the parasitic creativity to which Sartre refers. And despite 

its moments of undeniable brilliance, one can glimpse, now and again, at least 
the threat of a blind alley. 

The opening pages of TE do not focus in the first instance on Husserl. The 
problem of the self with which Sartre is concerned belongs to philosophy quite 
generally, and Sartre's bold initial declaration of intent is stated in general terms: 
T should like to show here that the Ego is neither formally nor materially in 
consciousness: it is outside, in the world; it is a being in the world, like the Ego 
of another' (p. 1 in this volume; hereafter simple page nos. in parentheses will 
refer to pages in this volume). 

Sartre suggests that the view he is contesting is widely held: he attributes it, in 
this first paragraph, not only to 'most philosophers', but also to 'psychologists'. 
Nonetheless, and notwithstanding Sartre's use of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason 
as a way in to his problem, it soon becomes clear that his main opponent is 

This is indicated, too, by the title of Sartre's essay. Sartre's use of the term 
'transcendence' follows Husserl' s, and refers to an opposition central to 
Husserl's thought. In Husserl's usage, an object of consciousness is 'immanent' 
if all its parts are contained within a single conscious experience. A sensation, 
for example, is 'inherent' within consciousness: it is presented in its entirety, 
'lived through', as Husserl puts it. A 'transcendent' object, on the other hand, has 
aspects some of which always exceed — 'transcend' — a particular experience of 
it. Material objects are transcendent in this sense: visual perception, for example, 
cannot present a material object 'all at once', but only perspectivally. Looked at 
from the front, the back of the object remains unseen. 

Sartre claims, more controversially, that the Ego is also transcendent, that it is 
not an 'inhabitant' of consciousness. The title, moreover, lends itself to a double 
reading that it is possible Sartre meant to exploit. The 'transcendence of the Ego' 
is the essay's subject matter: Sartre wishes to establish that the Ego is 
transcendent. At the same time it can be understood as an activity that Sartre is 
recommending. In the ordinary sense of 'transcend', in which it simply means 'to 
go beyond', Sartre is urging his readers to transcend the Ego that philosophers 
have wrongly imposed on us. 

TE has two parts. In the first, negative part, Sartre's procedure accords with 
the passage from his War Diaries: he 'exhausts' what Husserl has to offer, and 
thinks 'at his expense'. Sartre takes up Husserl's account of the transcendental 
Ego, in order to argue that Husserl's own thinking ought not to have admitted it. 
In the second part of the essay, Sartre offers, in place of Husserl's false 
conception, a positive account of the 'constitution' of the Ego. 

A brief survey of the main elements of Husserl's phenomenological approach 
that Sartre takes up in TE will help at this point to clarify his strategy of internal 


It is important to note that although the term 'phenomenology' is used today to 
denote a movement within European philosophy (whose 'classical' period begins 
with the work of Franz Brentano in the late nineteenth century, and spans the first 
forty years or so of the twentieth), this was not how Husserl saw it. For Husserl, 
phenomenology was the only possible form that genuine philosophical enquiry 
could take: the proposed methodology was the only way, Husserl contended, that 
philosophy could proceed 'as a rigorous science'. In many of his writings Husserl 
laments, just as Kant had before him, the lack of a rationally grounded and 
universally recognizable basis for philosophy. The 'radical new beginning' 
Husserl delineates aims to make good this lack. 

The central claim in Husserl's later conception of phenomenology is that this 
new beginning requires an important shift in perspective on the philosopher's 
part, which detaches him from his habitual, everyday outlook, that of the 'natural 
attitude'. In the natural attitude we unhesitatingly accept the 'givenness' of the 
world around us, and of the many types of objects it contains. We experience 
ourselves as human subjects in the world, alongside other humans as well as non- 
human animals. As Husserl puts it, '[the world] is continually "on hand" for me 
and I myself am a member of it' (1982:53). Husserl holds moreover that in the 
natural attitude we are continuously engaged in acts of 'positing' the world and 
its contents; in other words, and whether or not we explicitly express beliefs to 
this effect, we regard the world and the objects within it, as existing, or actual. 

The shift in perspective that Husserl prescribes involves a retreat from these 
unquestioned existential beliefs: the philosopher parenthesizes them, or puts them 
out of action. This operation is reminiscent of Descartes's 'method of doubt', and 
Husserl repeatedly acknowledges Descartes's inspirational example, but it is not 
identical. The existential beliefs in question are not doubted, or negated, but 
rather suspended: no use may be made of them. For this exercise, Husserl bor- 
rows the Greek term epoche (which is used in ancient sceptical discussions to 
refer to 'suspension of judgement' and, outside philosophy, literally translates as 
'check' or 'hindrance'). 

The epoche, according to Husserl, opens up the philosopher's proper domain 
of enquiry: his own 'pure consciousness', which remains available as an object 
of study even after all assumptions about the existence of the world and its 
contents have been bracketed. Like Descartes, Husserl regards the experience of 
one's own conscious states as indubitable: as Husserl often puts it, such 
experience provides evidence that is apodictic, whose falsity is inconceivable. 
Although I may doubt whether an experience accurately represents reality, I 
cannot doubt the experience as an appearance or 'phenomenon'. 

Husserl often describes the epoche as the gateway to a 'new region of being', 
a region that the natural attitude typically obstructs from view. 'As long as the 
possibility of the phenomenological attitude had not been recognized,' he writes, 

'the phenomenological world had to remain unknown, indeed, hardly even 
suspected' (1982:66). The task for the philosopher, once he has entered this 
region, is to describe what he finds there, given in the ongoing stream of his 
conscious states. (With this undertaking, Husserl's project diverges from 
Descartes's.) Husserl believes that the systematic investigation of the field of 'pure 
consciousness' can uncover essential truths about the nature of experience. Thus, 
as Husserl illustrates, the structure of any experience of a material object can be 
explicated, as can the experience of another mind. The retreat from the natural 
attitude allows the philosopher to reconstruct what it is for us to 'have' a world. 

Simone de Beauvoir records in her memoirs the tremendous excitement that 
Sartre's encounter with Husserl's ideas produced in him. Phenomenology 
examined our experience of the world, and promised to illuminate it without 
either naivete or dogma. Sartre refers to it respectfully in TE as 'a scientific... 
study of consciousness', 'proceeding... via intuition', which 'puts us in the 
presence of the thing' (p. 4). At the time of writing TE, Sartre was also working 
on a first novel — but whose title at that point was 'A Factum on fictional project 
that was eventually published as Nausea — his Contingency'. Phenomenology 
could not have been more relevant to Sartre's central concern, in both his 
philosophical and his fictional work of the time, with the relationship between 
consciousness and the world. 

Yet, Sartre complains in TE, a rigorous use of the phenomenological method 
does not uncover the transcendental I (or 'pure Ego', as Husserl more commonly 
puts it) that Husserl locates at the heart of conscious experience. Sartre accuses 
Husserl of an unnecessary duplication of selves; the worldly 'psycho-physical' 
self that, Husserl claims, we normally have in mind when we talk of our 'self 
poses no problem. But, Sartre rhetorically asks, 'is this psychical and psycho- 
physical me not sufficient?' (p. 5). Why double it, as Husserl does, with a further, 
'inner' self, a transcendental I? Moreover, Sartre suggests, Husserl's own, self- 
imposed methodological constraint — his epoche — ought to rule out any such 
transcendental I. 


Husserl does indeed seem to speak of 'two' selves, with different names: an 
empirical or 'psychological' self and a 'pure' or transcendental Ego. The 
operation of the epoche clarifies the distinction between them. In ordinary life, 
unreflectively immersed within 'the natural attitude', a person may speak 
unproblematically about her 'self (or those of others). This discourse refers to the 
psychological self, attributed to a human person, situated within the world. This 
worldly self figures of course within our existential beliefs (it provides the 
subject matter of psychology) and must therefore get bracketed by the epoche. 
After the epoche, however, when the philosopher surveys the field of 'pure 
consciousness', Husserl maintains that a pure Ego — the subject of consciousness 

— is disclosed there. Drawing on a visual metaphor, Husserl suggests that the 
pure Ego's presence in every conscious process is like a 'regard' that traverses it. 
'This ray of "regard" changes from one cogito to the next, shooting forth anew with 
each new cogito... The Ego, however, is something identical' (1982: 132). For 
Husserl, this pure Ego is encountered 'as a residuum after our 
phenomenological exclusion of the world and of the empirical subjectivity 
included in it' (p. 133). 

This finding, Sartre objects, is inconsistent with Husserl's methodology. The 
point of the epoche, as Sartre understands it, is that it circumscribes a realm of 
which we can have certain knowledge. (Sartre's reading emphasizes the 
Cartesian strand in Husserl's thinking, in which the driving force of enquiry is 
the need to secure 'apodictic' evidence. In doing so, he neglects the numerous 
passages in Husserl's writing where this concern recedes, or is questioned.) 
Now, Sartre insists, this certainty can extend only to what is wholly given, or 
immanent, within the 'moment' of consciousness surveyed in the reflective act. 
Yet the being of the pure Ego outstrips that of any of its conscious states; 
Husserl explicitly states that it is identical throughout the stream of experience. 
It is therefore, Sartre argues, just like my psychological Ego (or anyone else's, for 
that matter) transcendent: an 'existent', presented to consciousness. If the epoche 
excludes any transcendent being, then no Ego, pure or psychological, can 
legitimately be included within a post-epoche consciousness. 

Husserl's distinction between two sorts of Ego is not supposed to imply that 
each exists independently of the other. Rather, he holds that the relationship 
between the pure and the psychological Ego is that the latter is the outcome of a 
process of constitution. Self-constitution: the pure Ego, through a process of 
'self-obj edification', comes to regard itself as part of the world. Now Sartre 
wholeheartedly agrees that the worldly self is 'constituted': this doctrine, 
formulated at this stage of his career in phenomenological terms, survives, 
overlaid with existentialist vocabulary, in his later insistence that, in the case of 
human beings, 'existence precedes essence'. But, Sartre insists, constituting 
consciousness must be regarded as impersonal: 'personhood' only enters the 
scene as the outcome of an 'anonymous' process of constitution. Husserl, Sartre 
suggests, ought to have stopped at one Ego, the psychological 'worldly' one: 
there is no other, and, Sartre believes, no other is needed. 


So speaks Sartre the conscientious phenomenologist, out-doing Husserl in his 
fidelity to the epoche, rejecting the transcendental I as gratuitous and 
unwarranted. Accompanying him, however, and sporadically interrupting, is a 
far less sober character, outraged by the very thought of such an I. Were it to 
exist, Sartre claims, it would be dangerous: 'it would violently separate 
consciousness from itself, it would divide it, slicing through each consciousness 
like an opaque blade. The transcendental I is the death of consciousness' (p. 7). 

For Sartre, to allow either substance or opacity within consciousness is to 
compromise its absolute status. From its nature as an 'absolute' it follows, in 
Sartre's eyes, that '[consciousness... cannot be limited except by itself (p. 7), 
or subject to any law but its own. A transcendental I would in effect govern 
consciousness and, Sartre says with distaste, render it 'heavy and ponderable" (p. 
9). Even to characterize it as the source of conscious experience would conflict 
with a truth about consciousness that, Sartre claims, we 'know' : 'nothing except 
consciousness can be the source of consciousness' (p. 15). 

As Sartre's language indicates, he regards these claims about consciousness — 
its spontaneity, translucency, autonomy — as unquestionable. They reappear, 
often verbatim, in the major work of 1943 in which his early phenomenological 
writings culminated: Being and Nothingness. (By that point, Sartre had clarified 
what was at stake: the possibility of human freedom.) But are they 
phenomenologically grounded? As many critics have pointed out, it is doubtful, 
even in Husserl's case, whether the framework of his enquiry justifies his 
attribution of a distinctive, 'non-natural' type of being to consciousness. In the 
case of Sartre, whose adherence to the phenomenological method is less 
systematic, the doubt is greater still. Why should we assent to his description of 
consciousness as absolute, spontaneous, self-limiting, and so on? Although 
Sartre assures us that we know these truths, he does not show us how. The role of 
phenomenology appears at this point to be only ancillary: where 'evidence' can 
be found, its function is to persuade the reader of metaphysical convictions that 
Sartre holds independently and unshakeably. Phenomenology seems to be led by 
metaphysics, rather than vice versa: this tendency, by Being and Nothingness, 
had become more pronounced. 


Sartre appeals to the epoche to convict Husserl's account of a transcendental I of 
inconsistency. Yet the account he offers in TE of the source of Husserl's mistake 
raises questions about the validity and possibility of knowledge derived from 
reflection that threaten the phenomenological method in its entirety. In TE, one 
of Sartre's earliest phenomenological texts, one already finds tensions in Sartre's 
'corrective' appropriation of Husserl's method that are never fully resolved. 

Having denied Husserl the right to locate an I within consciousness, Sartre sets 
out to explain the appearances. For he concedes that there are experiences in 
which an T features. In this, Descartes and Husserl were right: 'it is undeniable 
that the Cogito is personal. In the "I think", there is an I which thinks' (p. 9). Their 
mistake, however, was to misinterpret this encounter with an I as an encounter 
with a self that had been there all along. But, Sartre points out, the experience of 
the Cogito is always reflective: consciousness 'discovers' its personal being only 
when it reflects upon itself. And Sartre's ingenious suggestion is that the 
'discovery' of personal being, understood as pre-existing the act of reflection, is 
an illusion. The reflective attitude, rather than discovering the self, creates it: 

'might it not be precisely the reflective act which brings the me into being in 
reflected consciousness?' (p. 11). 

On Sartre's account, the reflective attitude is far from reliable. Although it is 
associated with the idea of 'transparency', there is nothing mirror-like about it: it 
alters the 'data' that it surveys. In TE Sartre does not provide an explanation of 
how this occurs: how can a shift in attitude result in the creation of a new entity? 
Further, he seems to move between the more radical charge that reflection 
misleadingly modifies the nature of consciousness and a much weaker 
complaint, that its findings may be less than certain. 

Sartre's early criticisms of reflection express a distrust of it as a means of 
gaining self-knowledge that recurs throughout his writings, literary as well as 
philosophical. Sartre's aversion to the 'inner life' goes hand in hand with his 
sense that the means typically used to apprehend it — introspection — is, at best, 
unreliable and often dishonest. In fact, as he tells us in his Conclusion, his 
account of consciousness implies that there is no 'inner life' (p. 43) and thereby 
discredits people's attempts to monitor it: 'Doubts, remorse, the so-called "crises 
of consciousness", etc., in short all of the material of people's diaries become mere 
representations' (p. 43). (Sartre's sarcastic tone here prefigures his cynical 
description of 'sincerity', in Being and Nothingness, as a form of bad faith.) 
Even in his own War Diaries where, as one might expect, Sartre adopts a more 
positive attitude towards self-scrutiny, his reservations about it are not 
abandoned. But, he writes in 1939, wartime diary -keeping counts as a special 
case: 'It simply seems to me that on the occasion of some great event, when one 
is in the process of changing one's life like a snake sloughing its skin, one can 
look at that dead skin. . .and take one's bearings. After the war, I shall no longer 
keep this diary, or if I do I shall no longer speak about myself in it' (1984:139). 

In TE, Sartre argues that a distinction needs to be made between 'pure' and 
'impure' reflection. Although he does not state this explicitly, the distinction 
allows one to understand Husserl's 'mistake' as an instance of 'impure' 
reflection. (And it also provides a basis for scepticism about introspection.) The 
error that defines impure reflection is that it goes beyond what is 'given' in the 
'instantaneous consciousness' (p. 22) reflected upon, it 'affirms more than it 
knows': it extends its claims to objects that appear 'through' that moment of 
consciousness, but are not wholly contained within it. The hatred of Peter that I 
may discern in myself, Sartre suggests, can appear only within the perspective of 
impure reflection, because my state of hatred is understood as outlasting my 
current encounter with it. 'After all,' Sartre comments, T have hated Peter for a 
long time and I think I always will hate him' (p. 22). Pure reflection, limited to 
the instant and thereby free of error, would entitle me only to say that 'I feel at this 
moment a violent revulsion towards Peter' (p. 22). This corrective potential of 
pure reflection vis-a-vis impure reflection echoes Sartre's 'correction' of Husserl 
in relation to the self. 

Does Sartre, then, identify his own method with that of pure reflection? 
Interestingly, in TE, this does not seem to be the case; in fact, as we will see, 

Sartre says remarkably little about his own methodology. But there are 
difficulties in the idea of pure reflection that Sartre, in TE, does not seem to 

One difficulty relates to the concept of the 'instantaneous', on which the 
distinction between pure and impure reflection turns. For Sartre, the 
'instantaneous moment' circumscribes the domain of certainty within the 
reflective attitude. But isn't the 'instant', encroached upon on either side by past 
and future instants, a vanishing point? This difficulty, of course, also threatens 
Husserl's identification of the domain of 'apodictic' evidence with what is given 
in the present moment of consciousness. (Ironically, though, Husserl seems to 
have been more aware of the problem: he devotes an entire section (§9) of the 
Cartesian Meditations to the 'urgent' problem of the range of the apodictic 
evidence of the Cogito.) Sartre's complaint, against Husserl, that the epoche, 
rigorously practised, ought to exclude the I from the domain of certainty invites a 
question about what results one might expect from Sartre's own, 'purified' 
method of enquiry. Can pure reflection deliver any certain knowledge about 
consciousness, or will it turn out that any putative object of reflection will exceed 
its bounds? 

Thus Sartre's criticism of Husserl rebounds against his own thinking. This 
self-ensnaring structure has of course become familiar more recently through the 
late-twentieth-century 'deconstructive' writings of Jacques Derrida, whose early 
philosophical engagement with phenomenology compares fascinatingly with 
Sartre's. Both Sartre and Derrida, early in their philosophical careers, take on the 
hugely influential figure of Husserl, and both challenge his thinking by means of 
internal critique. Indeed, the doctrine of the pure Ego attracts both their 
attention: amusingly, one of Sylvie le Bon's notes (reproduced here) to the 1965 
publication, by Vrin, of TE in book form, draws the reader's attention to a 
journal article published in 1963 by a little-known philosopher, 'M. Derrida', 
where Husserl's account of the transcendental I is further discussed (p. 58, note 

A second difficulty arises from Sartre's conception of consciousness (noted 
earlier) as 'absolute', and free of opacity. We saw that this conception, for 
Sartre, is incompatible with the 'substantiality' of a transcendental I, and that this 
thought played a part in Sartre's opposition to the latter. Sartre also insists that the 
translucency of consciousness is incompatible with the existence of division 
within it (and this thought underlies his rejection of Freud). But the difficulty for 
pure reflection is that it seems also, unavoidably, to introduce a division within 
consciousness insofar as its structure makes of consciousness an object to itself. 

Sartre describes, in TE, the 'alteration' that reflection brings about in 
consciousness: prior to reflection, consciousness always involves 'consciousness 
of itself, but non-positionally (p. 10). With reflection, consciousness becomes 
positional, by virtue of the fact that it directs itself towards itself. But this 'self- 
positing' installs a division between the 'reflective' and 'reflected' aspects of 
consciousness. As Sartre puts it: 'the consciousness which says "I think" is 

precisely not the consciousness that thinks. Or rather, it is not its own thought 
that it posits by this thetic act' (p. 10). At this point in the text, he is explaining 
how, by virtue of this dislocation from itself, reflective consciousness can, as it 
were, 'accrue' an I that it would be false to attribute to unreflected consciousness. 
But the trouble is that reflection in general requires an act of 'positing', so the 
dislocation must affect pure reflection too. The problem, then, seems not so 
much to be one of whether the thinker 'affirms more than he knows' but whether 
there is anything that he can 'know' about himself. It appears to be impossible to 
spell out the 'consciousness of itself that Sartre attributes to pre-reflective 
consciousness — to transform it into self-knowledge — without destroying it. 

We will never know how far Sartre appreciated these difficulties when he 
wrote TE, but they persist in his later writings. Sartre struggles at several points 
in Being and Nothingness with the topic of self-knowledge. Famously, while he 
had no difficulty in characterizing the 'bad faith' inherent in everyday self- 
understanding, he was obliged to postpone any account of good faith, claiming in 
a much-quoted footnote that its description 'has no place here' (2003:70). 


It is remarkable that, alongside the account of pure reflection that Sartre outlines 
in TE, a quite different methodology altogether is briefly described, and 
employed. For Sartre does not merely claim that the I is a product of reflective 
consciousness. Audaciously, he tries in addition to demonstrate its absence from 
un reflective consciousness. But how can he do this, without recourse to 
reflection? Sartre, simply, attempts to show how. Through memory, he suggests, 
an experience may be subtly retrieved without being 'posited' or otherwise 
disturbed. 'All that is required... is to try and reconstitute the complete moment 
in which this unreflected consciousness appeared', Sartre tells us, and adds, in a 
reassuring parenthesis, that 'this is, by definition, always possible' (p. 11). The 
key to success in this operation is that one must reconstitute the moment that has 
just passed without altering the direction of one's gaze. Applying this subtle 
technique to the example of reading a book, Sartre learns that 'while I was 
reading, there was a consciousness of the book, of the heroes... but the I did not 
inhabit this consciousness' (p. 12). 

The tension in this endeavour is clear. Perhaps spontaneous memories, 
unsolicited, demonstrate that there are occasions in everyday life when we 
'relive' earlier experiences, just as they were. But can the same constancy in 
point of view be claimed for an experience that is deliberately retrieved (for the 
purpose, in this case, of a philosophical demonstration) ? Does not the 
distinction, implicit in Sartre's description of the process, between the 
'reconstituting' consciousness and the 'reconstituted' state cast fatal doubt on his 
claim to have steered clear of reflection? 

Sartre acknowledges that the 'result' he has secured by these means is, insofar 
as it depends on memory, fallible. It lacks the certainty of phenomenological 

reflection. But — the lesson of the I shows — the danger with the latter is that 
illegitimate claims to that 'certainty' can all too easily arise. In TE, Sartre moves 
between different phenomenological methodologies without committing himself 
exclusively to just one. The influence of Heidegger (whose enormous differences 
with Husserl we cannot go into here) makes itself felt alongside Husserl's, as if 
they were compatible. (This syncretic attitude, already present in Sartre's 
earliest philosophical publications, is a hallmark of his intellectual personality 
throughout his career.) Despite the frequent methodological discussions in 
Sartre's 'phenomenological' writings of the 1930s, the conception of 
phenomenology he wishes to endorse in this period is unstable and never fully 
defined. But the early doubts about Husserl, expressed in TE, seem to have 
grown: by Being and Nothingness, interestingly, the epoche has dropped out of 
the picture completely. 


Having ruled out the possibility of locating an I within consciousness, Sartre 
undertakes, in the second part of TE, to give an account of how the Ego he does 
admit — a 'transcendent' Ego, 'outside, in the world" (p. 1) — is constituted. As 
this Ego, we have seen, only appears with the reflective attitude, the constitutive 
processes Sartre describes are also located at the level of reflection. This might 
suggest that Sartre's standpoint is second-order (pure?) reflection, but Sartre 
does not clarify this. 

Sartre claims that transcendent entities of three different types enter into the 
constitution of the Ego: states, qualities and actions. He explains in the following 
three sections how each of these is constituted in relation to consciousness, and 
suggests that the role of the Ego is to unify them. The Ego is a 'transcendent pole 
of synthetic unity', to which these psychological entities are related (p. 21). 
Sartre's use of such phrases, and his taxonomic procedure, appear conventionally 
phenomenological. Nothing prepares the reader for Sartre's statement, at the end 
of his discussion of states, that the link between a state like hatred and the 
experience in which it appears is magical. Moreover, he adds, 'it is in 
exclusively magical terms that we have to describe the relations between the me 
and consciousness' (p. 26). 

These relations are 'magical' because ordinary causal thinking cannot 
accommodate them. Sartre emphasizes repeatedly, in the second part of TE, the 
'unintelligibility' of our conception of the Ego, which arises, he suggests, from 
an incompatibility in its elements. Simply put, Sartre's point is that the nature of 
subjectivity cannot be captured within a conceptual framework suitable for 
worldly objects. And an important part of his reason for thinking this is that 
consciousness has a unique and distinctive type of being. Objects that enter into 
causal relations reciprocally limit and define each other: their being is inert and 
relative, Sartre holds, while that of consciousness is absolute and spontaneous. 
The Ego (and its component parts) are supposed to explain our experience. We 

invoke a 'state' such as hatred to explain, in causal terms, an episode of 
behaviour: 'Why were you so unpleasant to Peter?' 'Because I detest him.' (p. 
25). Yet at the same time (pure) reflection leaves us certain of the spontaneity of 
consciousness, and thereby invalidates the explanatory hypothesis: conscious 
episodes of 'disgust' cannot be the effect of hatred. Hence the need for 'magic' in 
our self-understanding. In place of an inapplicable causal understanding of the 
relation between a state and an episode of consciousness, we rely, Sartre says, on 
the illogical concept of 'emanation': the episode of disgust is not an effect of 
hatred, but its emanation. 

'Emanation' {emanation in French), belongs in both languages to Christian 
theological vocabulary, specifically to an element in the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity. Both Son and Holy Spirit are said to 'proceed' from God the Father by 
way of emanation. If this were the only item of religious vocabulary in TE, one 
might think its appearance accidental. In fact Sartre draws, without inhibition or 
comment, on a wide range of theological notions: the Ego creates itself ex nihilo 
(p. 32), relates to its states by a kind of procession (p. 33), and maintains its 
qualities by 'a veritable continuous creation' (p. 32). 

Sartre's use of this religious vocabulary, in addition to his frequent references 
to magic and witchcraft in the second part of TE, raises fascinating interpretative 
questions. What status does Sartre, an atheist, accord to these theological 
concepts? What role can phenomenology, understood as a 'scientific study of 
consciousness', find for magic in the constitution of an intelligible world? The 
reader of TE, leaving behind the confined Husserlian parameters of part one, is 
largely expected to decide these questions for herself. 

Various possibilities suggest themselves. In moving freely between magic and 
theology, Sartre may provocatively be suggesting that the two sets of concepts 
are on a par: religion belongs alongside other 'superstitious' thought. In showing 
both the centrality and the apparent indispensability of these concepts in modern 
western thinking, Sartre may be taking issue with an anthropological account of 
'pre -rational' mentality, popular at the time, that associated such modes of 
thinking with primitive societies. And, following Henri Bergson (1859-1941), 
(whose influence on TE extends beyond the occasional passages in which Sartre 
disagrees with him), Sartre may be seeking to demonstrate the existence of 
'magical' elements in our self-understanding that an unprejudiced 
phenomenology must bring to light. 

But is this self-understanding necessary, and if not, should we correct it? In 
offering a metaphysical diagnosis of the source of unintelligibility — the 
ineliminable misfit between causal thinking and the 'absolute' nature of 
consciousness — Sartre suggests that we have no alternative to magical, non- 
logical concepts. '[M]an is always a sorcerer for man' (p. 35), Sartre writes, and 
he remains committed to this claim two years later, when exactly the same 
phrase appears in his Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions (2002:56). 
Nonetheless, Sartre's use of terms like 'degeneration', and 'degradation' to 
describe the transformation that consciousness undergoes when it becomes an 

object of reflection cannot but communicate a sense of regret at this process, and 
it is not ultimately clear in TE whether it is merely our intellectual limitations or, 
worse, our culpability that prompts this regret. Culpability is at least a possible 
interpretation at some points in the text, for example in relation to Sartre's claim 
that consciousness 'imprisons itself in the World in order to flee from itself (p. 


Sartre's conclusion summarizes in three 'remarks' the achievements of his essay. 
Within these, he includes his alleged solutions to two long-standing philosophical 
problems that have defeated generations of philosophers, Husserl included: the 
so-called 'problem of other minds', and the threat of solipsism. Sartre believes 
that his account of the Ego's transcendence escapes these problems but, as one 
might expect — and as he had already come to see by the time he wrote Being and 
Nothingness — the 'solutions' he proposes are short-lived: at most they displace, 
but do not eliminate, the traditional problems. 

A richer suggestion, advanced in the course of Sartre's first remark, is that his 
account of the relationship between consciousness and the I explains, better than 
Husserl's can, how the epoche might be motivated. For Sartre, an appeal to 
reason here is wholly unconvincing. Why, he asks, should we ever come to 
question the 'natural attitude', given that it is not internally incoherent? Sartre's 
suggestion, anticipating once again his later account of bad faith, is that the 
natural attitude and the Ego that we constitute within it play a practical role: they 
'mask from consciousness its own spontaneity' (p. 48). We immerse ourselves in 
the natural attitude in order to avoid the anguish that recognition of the 
spontaneity of consciousness would induce. (Sartre claims, too, that this 
metaphysically-based anguish lies, contrary to psychoanalytical explanation, at 
the origin of various psychological disorders.) But this escapist endeavour is not 
wholly successful: inevitably moments arise in which we find ourselves 
confronted with the reality. The epoche, then, is not driven by reason, but by the 
experience of anguish: 'no longer an intellectual method. . .[i]t is an anguish that 
imposes itself on us and that we cannot avoid' (p. 49). In Sartre's hands, the 
importance of phenomenology is not merely epistemological; its findings affect 
the way we live our lives. This existentialist perspective, seen in TE at an early 
stage of its development, provides of course Sartre's most distinctive and 
creative contribution to phenomenological thinking. 

Sartre's final remark considers the political and ethical implications of his 
position. Even at this early stage of his career, before the extensive politicization 
that the second World War brought about in him, Sartre is concerned to defend 
phenomenology against the 'theoreticians of the extreme left' who construe it as 
an idealist philosophy. Sartre argues that by situating the self within the world, 
his account gives due weight to the 'external resistances' of 'suffering, hunger 
and war' (pp. 50-1), and vindicates a materialist outlook. Sartre is not deterred 

by the glaring incompatibility at the level of metaphysics between his account of 
consciousness and materialism, because, he tells us, 'I have always thought that 
such a fertile working hypothesis as historical materialism in no way required as 
a basis the absurdity of metaphysical materialism' (p. 51). 

Sartre's triumphant claim that, once the transcendence of the Ego is admitted, 
'[njothing further is needed' (p. 52) to provide politics and ethics with the right 
metaphysical foundation is questionable; his later writings, at any rate, show that 
these issues had not been laid to rest. But Sartre's tendency to exaggerate should 
not lead us to overlook an indisputable achievement of this elegant text: its 
imaginative exploration of the significance and wide-ranging ramifications of a 
seemingly theoretical and inconsequential doctrine in Husserl's thought. 


Husserl, Edmund (1960) Cartesian Meditations, trans. Dorion Cairns, The Hague: 
Martinus Nijhoff. 

(1982) Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phcnom-cnological 

Philosophy, First Book, trans. F.Kersten, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1984) War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War, November 939- 
1940, trans. Q.Hoare, London: Verso. 

(2002) Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, trans. Philip Mairet, London: Routledge. 

(2003) Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel Barnes, London: Routledge. 


A sketch for a phenomenological description 

For most philosophers, the Ego is an 'inhabitant' of consciousness. Some of them 
state that it is formally present at the heart of 'Erlebnisse', as an empty principle 
of unification. Others — psychologists, for the most part — claim they can 
discover its material presence, as a centre of desires and acts, in every moment of 
our psychical life. I should like to show here that the Ego is neither formally nor 
materially in consciousness: it is outside, in the world; it is a being in the world, 
like the Ego of another. 


The theory of the formal presence of the / 

We have to agree with Kant when he says that 'it must be possible for the "I 
think" to accompany all my representations'. 1 But should we thereby conclude 
that an I inhabits de facto all our states of consciousness and really performs the 
supreme synthesis of our experience? It seems that this would be to distort 
Kant's philosophy. The problem of critique is a de jure problem: thus Kant 
affirms nothing about the de facto existence of the T think'. He seems, on the 
contrary, to have clearly seen that there were moments of consciousness without 
an I, since he says: 'it must be possible (for the "I think" to accompany, etc.)'. 
The real issue is rather that of determining the conditions of possibility of 
experience. One of these conditions is that I should always be able to consider 
my perception or my thought as mine; that is all. But there is a dangerous 
tendency in contemporary philosophy — traces of which may be found in neo- 
Kantianism, empirio-criticism, or an intellectualism such as that of Brochard — 
which consists of turning the conditions of possibility determined by critique into 
a reality? This is a tendency that leads some authors, for instance, to wonder 
what 'transcendental consciousness' may actually be. If we formulate the 
question in these terms, we are naturally forced to conceive of this consciousness 
— which constitutes our empirical consciousness — as an unconscious. But 


Boutroux, in his lectures on Kant's philosophy, 3 had already refuted these 
interpretations. Kant never bothered about the way in which empirical 
consciousness is de facto constituted, he never deduced it, as in some Neo-platonic 
procession, from a higher consciousness, a constitutive hyperconsciousness. 
Transcendental consciousness is, for him, merely the set of conditions necessary 
for the existence of an empirical consciousness. In consequence, to make the 
transcendental / into a real entity, to turn it into the inseparable companion of 
each of our 'consciousnesses'," 1 is to make a de facto and not a de jure judgement, 
and means that we adopt a point of view that is radically different from Kant's. 
And if we then persist in claiming that this move can be authorized by Kant's 
considerations on the unity necessary for experience, we commit the same error 
as those who turn transcendental consciousness into a pre-empirical 

If we thus agree with Kant on the de jure question, the de facto question is not 
thereby resolved. So it should here be stated in clear and concise terms: it must 
be possible for the 'I think' to accompany all our representations, but does it 
accompany them in actual fact? Let us suppose, furthermore, that a certain 
representation A passes from a certain state in which the 'I think' does not 
accompany it to a state in which the 'I think' does accompany it; will this 
representation thereby undergo a modification of structure, or will it remain 
basically unchanged? This second question leads us to ask a third: it must be 
possible for the 'I think' to accompany all our representations; but are we to 
understand by this that the unity of our representations is, directly or indirectly, 
made a reality by the 'I think' — or are we to understand that the representations 
of a consciousness must be unified and articulated in such a way that an 'I think' 
can always be uttered in regard to them? This third question seems to belong to 
the de jure domain and, in this domain, to leave behind Kantian orthodoxy. But 
what we really have here is a de facto question which can be formulated in these 
terms: is the / which we encounter in our consciousness made possible by the 
synthetic unity of our representations, or is it the I that in fact unifies the 
representations among themselves? 

If we abandon all the more or less forced interpretations that post-Kantians 
have given of the 'I think', and yet still wish to resolve the problem of the de 
facto existence of the / in consciousness, we encounter, en route, the 
phenomenology of Husserl. 4 Phenomenology is a scientific, and not a 'critical', 
study of consciousness. 5 Its essential way of proceeding is via intuition. 
Intuition, according to Husserl, puts us in the presence of the thing. 6 We must 
therefore recognize that phenomenology is a de facto science, and that the 
problems it raises are de facto problems' 3 — and this is something that can also be 
seen from the way that Husserl calls it a descriptive science. 7 The problems of 
the relations between the / and consciousness are thus existential problems. 
Husserl takes up Kant's transcendental consciousness and grasps it by means of 
the epoche. % But this consciousness is no longer a set of logical conditions, but 
an absolute fact. It is no longer a de jure hypostasis, an unconscious that floats 


between real and ideal realms. It is a real consciousness, accessible to each and 
every one of us, once we have performed the 'reduction'. The fact remains that it 
is indeed this transcendental consciousness that constitutes our empirical 
consciousness, consciousness 'in the world', consciousness with a psychical and 
psychophysical me. As far as I am concerned, I am quite happy to believe in the 
existence of a constitutive consciousness. I can go along with Husserl in each of 
the admirable descriptions 9 in which he shows transcendental consciousness 
constituting the world by imprisoning itself in empirical consciousness; I am 
convinced, as he is, that our psychical and psychophysical me is a transcendent 
object which must come under the scope of the epoche. w But the question I 
would like to raise is the following: is this psychical and psycho-physical me not 
sufficient? Do we need to add to it a transcendental I, as a structure of absolute 
consciousness? 11 The consequences of the answer we give are easy to see. If the 
answer is in the negative, then: 

1 the transcendental field becomes impersonal, or, if you prefer, 'pre- 
personal', it is without an I; 

2 the I appears only on the level of humanity and is merely one face of the me, 
the active face; 12 

3 the 'I think' can accompany our representations because it appears against 
the background of a unity that it has not contributed to creating, and it is this 
pre-existing unity which, on the contrary, makes it possible; 

4 it becomes possible to ask oneself whether personality (even the abstract 
personality of an I) is a necessary accompaniment to consciousness, and 
whether one cannot conceive of consciousnesses that are absolutely 
impersonal. 13 

But Husserl has already replied to the question. Having considered that the Me was 
a synthetic and transcendental production of consciousness (in the Logische 
Untersuchungen), 14 he reverted, in the Ideas, 15 to the classical thesis of a 
transcendental I that follows on, so to speak, behind each consciousness, as the 
necessary structure of these consciousnesses, whose rays (Ichstrahl) fall on to 
each phenomenon that presents itself to the field of attention. Thus transcendental 
consciousness becomes rigorously personal. Was this conception necessary? Is it 
compatible with the definition that Husserl gives of consciousness? 

It is usually believed that the existence of a transcendental I is justified by the 
need for consciousness to have unity and individuality. It is because all my 
perceptions and all my thoughts are linked to this permanent centre that my 
consciousness is unified; it is because I can say my consciousness, and that Peter 
and Paul can also speak of their consciousness, that these consciousnesses can be 
distinguished from one another. The I is a producer of inwardness. But it is 
certainly the case that phenomenology does not need to resort to this unifying 
and individualizing I. Rather, consciousness is defined by intentionality. 15 
Through intentionality it transcends itself, it unifies itself by going outside 


itself. 17 The unity of the thousand active consciousnesses through which I have 
added, now add, and will add in the future, two and two to make four, is the 
transcendent object 'two and two make four'. Without the permanence of this 
eternal truth, it would be impossible to conceive of a real unity, and there would 
be a multiplicity of irreducible operations — just as many as there are 
consciousnesses performing the operation. It is possible that those people who 
think that '2 and 2 make 4' is the content of my representation may be forced to 
resort to a transcendental and subjective principle of unification — in other words, 
the I. But it is precisely this of which Husserl has no need. The object is 
transcendent to the consciousnesses that grasp it, and it is within the object that 
their unity is found. It will be objected that it is necessary for there to be some 
principle of unity in duration if the continual stream of consciousnesses is able to 
posit transcendent objects outside itself. Consciousnesses must be perpetual 
syntheses of past consciousnesses with the present consciousness. And this is 
perfectly true. But it is typical of Husserl — who studied this subjective 
unification of consciousnesses in On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of 
Internal Time — that he never resorted to any synthetic power of the /. It is 
consciousness that unifies itself, concretely, by an interplay of 'transversal' 
consciousnesses that are real, concrete retentions of past consciousnesses. In this 
way, consciousness continually refers back to itself: to speak of 'a 
consciousness' is to speak of the whole of consciousness, and this singular 
property belongs to consciousness itself, whatever its relations with the I may in 
other respects be. 18 In the Cartesian Meditations, Husserl seems to have kept 
intact this conception of consciousness unifying itself in time. 19 From another 
angle, the individuality of consciousness evidently stems from the nature of 
consciousness. Consciousness (like Spinoza's substance) 20 cannot be limited 
except by itself. It therefore constitutes a synthetic, individual totality, 
completely isolated from other totalities of the same kind, and the I can, clearly, 
be merely an expression (and not a condition) of this incommunicability and this 
inwardness of consciousnesses. We can thus unhesitatingly reply: the 
phenomenological conception of consciousness renders the unifying and 
individualizing role of the / completely useless. It is, on the contrary, 
consciousness that renders the unity and personality of my I possible. The 
transcendental I thus has no raison d 'etre. 

Indeed, this superfluous I is actually a hindrance. If it existed, it would 
violently separate consciousness from itself, it would divide it, slicing through 
each consciousness like an opaque blade. The transcendental I is the death of 
consciousness. The existence of consciousness, indeed, is an absolute, because 
consciousness is conscious of itself; in other words, the type of existence that 
consciousness has is that it is consciousness of itself. 21 And it becomes conscious 
of itself insofar as it is consciousness of a transcendent object. 22 Everything 
in consciousness is thus clear and lucid: the object lies opposite it, in its 
characteristic opacity, but consciousness, for its part, is purely and simply the 
consciousness of being consciousness of this object: such is the law of its existence. 


We need to add that this consciousness of consciousness — with the exception of 
cases of reflective consciousness, which I will be examining in detail later — is 
not positional, i.e. consciousness is not its own object. 23 Its object is outside 
itself by nature, and this is the reason why, in one and the same act, 
consciousness can posit and grasp its object. Consciousness as such knows itself 
only as absolute inwardness. I will call such a consciousness 'first order' or 
'unreflective' consciousness. My question is this: is there any room for an I in a 
consciousness of this kind? The reply is clear: of course not. This I, after all, is 
neither the object (since it is ex hypothesi inward), nor is it an T of 
consciousness, since it is something for consciousness, not a trans lucentz quality 
of consciousness, but, to some degree, an inhabitant of it. Indeed, the 7, with its 
personality, is — however formal and abstract one may suppose it to be — a centre 
of opacity, as it were. It bears to the concrete and psycho-physical me the same 
relation as does a point to three dimensions: it is an infinitely contracted me. So 
if we introduce this opacity into consciousness, we will thereby destroy the 
highly productive definition we gave of it a little earlier: we will freeze and 
darken it, so that it is no longer something spontaneous, but bears within itself 
the germ of opacity. Yet another result would be that we are constrained to 
abandon the original, profound point of view which makes of consciousness a 
non-substantial absolute. A pure consciousness is an absolute quite simply 
because it is consciousness of itself. It thus remains a 'phenomenon' in the 
highly particular sense in which 'to be' and 'to appear' are one and the same. 24 It 
is nothing but lightness and translucency. It is in this respect that Husserl's 
Cogito is so different from the Cartesian Cogito. But if the I is a necessary 
structure of consciousness, this opaque I is thereby elevated to the status of an 
absolute. We would then be in the presence of a monad. And this indeed, 
unfortunately, is the way Husserl's thought has recently been developing (see the 
Cartesian Meditations). 25 Consciousness has become heavier, and lost the 
character that made it into the absolute existent by virtue of the fact that it did 
not exist. It is now heavy and ponderable. All the results of phenomenology are 
in danger of crumbling away if the I is not, every bit as much as the world, a 
relative existent, i.e. an object for consciousness. 26 


The Cogito as reflective consciousness 

The Kantian T think' is a condition of possibility. The Cogito of Descartes and 
Husserl is a de facto statement. The Cogito has been described as having a de facto 
necessity, and this expression strikes me as perfectly accurate. Now, it is 
undeniable that the Cogito is personal. In the T think', there is an I which thinks. 
We here reach the I in its purity and it is indeed from the Cogito that an 
'Egology' must begin. And so, the fact that can be taken as the starting point is 
this: each time that we grasp our thought, either by an immediate intuition, or by 
an intuition based on memory, we grasp an I which is the I of the thought that is 


being grasped and which, furthermore, gives itself as transcending this thought 
and all other possible thoughts. If, for instance, I wish to remember a certain 
landscape I saw from the train, yesterday, it is possible to bring back the memory 
of that landscape as such, but I can also remember that I saw that landscape. This 
is what Husserl calls, in On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal 
Time, the possibility of reflecting in memory. 21 In other words, I can always 
perform any kind of act of remembering in the personal mode, and the I 
immediately appears. This is the de facto guarantee of the de jure affirmation in 
Kant. It thus appears that there is not a single one of my consciousnesses that I 
do not grasp as endowed with an I. 

But we must remember that all authors who have described the Cogito have 
presented it as a reflective operation, i.e. a second-order operation. This Cogito is 
performed by a consciousness directed towards consciousness, which takes 
consciousness as its object. Let us be clear: the certainty of the Cogito is absolute 
since, as Husserl says, 28 there is an indissoluble unity between the reflecting 
consciousness and the reflected consciousness (so much so that the reflecting 
consciousness cannot exist without reflected consciousness). The fact remains 
that we are in the presence of a synthesis of two consciousnesses, one of which is 
consciousness of the other. Thus the essential principle of phenomenology, 'all 
consciousness is consciousness of something', is maintained. Now, my reflecting 
consciousness does not take itself for object when I carry out the Cogito. What it 
affirms concerns the reflected consciousness. Insofar as my reflecting 
consciousness is consciousness of itself, it is a non-positional consciousness. It 
becomes positional only if directed at the reflected consciousness which, in 
itself, was not a positional consciousness of itself before it was reflected. Thus the 
consciousness that says 'I think' is precisely not the consciousness that thinks. 
Or rather, it is not its own thought that it posits by this thetic act. We are thus 
justified in raising the question whether the I that thinks is common to the two 
superimposed consciousnesses, or whether it is not rather the I of the reflected 
consciousness. In fact, all reflecting consciousness is in itself unreflected, and a 
new, third-order act is needed to posit it. Moreover, there is no infinite regress 
here, since a consciousness has no need of a reflecting consciousness in order to 
be conscious of itself. It merely does not posit itself to itself as its own object. 29 

But might it not be precisely the reflective act that brings the me into being in 
reflected consciousness? This would explain how all thinking grasped by 
intuition possesses an I, without running into the difficulties that my preceding 
chapter pointed out. Husserl 30 is the first to recognize that an unreflected thought 
undergoes a radical modification when it becomes reflected. But does this 
modification have to be limited to a loss of 'naivete'? Might not the essential 
aspect of the change be the fact that the I appears? Obviously, we need to resort 
to concrete experience, and this may seem impossible, since an experience of 
this kind is by definition reflective, in other words endowed with an I. But all 
unreflected consciousness, being a non-thetic consciousness of itself, leaves 
behind it a non-thetic memory that can be consulted. 31 All that is required for 


this is to try to reconstitute the complete moment in which this unreflected 
consciousness appeared (and this is, by definition, always possible). For 
instance, I was just now absorbed in my reading. I am now going to try to remember 
the circumstances of my reading, my attitude, the lines I was reading. I am thus 
going to bring back to life not merely those external details but a certain 
thickness of unreflected consciousness, since it is only by this consciousness that 
the objects have been perceived, and they remain relative to it. This 
consciousness is not to be posited as an object of my reflection: quite the 
opposite, I must direct my attention to the objects I have brought back to life, but 
without losing sight of this consciousness; I must maintain a sort of complicity 
with it, and draw up an inventory of its content in a non-positional way. The result 
is not in doubt: while I was reading, there was a consciousness of the book, of the 
heroes of the book, but the I did not inhabit this consciousness, it was merely 
consciousness of the object and non-positional consciousness of itself. I can turn 
these results, grasped athetically, into the object of a thesis and declare: there 
was no I in the unreflected consciousness. This operation should not be 
considered artificial, dreamt up for the mere needs of this particular case: it is 
evidently thanks to this operation that Titchener 32 was able to state, in his 
Textbook of Psychology, that quite often the me was absent from his 
consciousness. But he did not take this any further, and did not attempt to 
classify the states of consciousness in which there is no me. 

The reader will doubtless be tempted to object that this operation, this non- 
reflective grasp of a consciousness by another consciousness, can obviously be 
performed only in and by memory, and that it thus does not benefit from the 
absolute certainty inherent in the reflective act. We would thus find ourselves on 
the one hand in the presence of an act that is certain and sure, enabling me to 
affirm the presence of the I in reflected consciousness, and on the other hand in 
the presence of a dubious memory which would tend to insinuate that the I is 
absent from unreflected consciousness. It seems that we have no right to set the 
latter up in opposition to the former. But I would ask you to consider that the 
memory of unreflected consciousness is not opposed to the data of reflective 
consciousness. No one dreams of denying that the I appears in a reflected 
consciousness. We simply need to contrast the reflective memory of my reading 
('I was reading'), which is in itself rather dubious in nature, with a non-reflected 
memory. The rights of present reflection do not, in fact, extend beyond 
consciousness grasped in the present moment. And reflective memory, to which 
we are obliged to resort in order to restore the consciousnesses that have elapsed, 
not only has a dubious character due to its nature as a memory: it also remains 
suspect because, on Husserl's own admission, reflection modifies spontaneous 
consciousness. And thus, since all the non-reflective memories of unreflected 
consciousness show me a consciousness without me, and since on the other hand 
theoretical considerations based recognize that the I could not be part of the 
internal structure on consciousness 's intuition of essence have obliged us to of 
Erlebnisse, we are forced to conclude: there is no I on the unreflected level. 


When I run after a tram, when I look at the time, when I become absorbed in the 
contemplation of a portrait, there is no I. There is a consciousness of the tram- 
needing-to-be-caught, etc., and a non-positional consciousness of consciousness. 
In fact, I am then plunged into the world of objects, it is they which constitute the 
unity of my consciousnesses, which present themselves with values, attractive 
and repulsive values, but as for me, I have disappeared, I have annihilated 
myself. There is no place for me at this level, and this is not the result of some 
chance, some momentary failure of attention: it stems from the very structure of 

This is something that a description of the Cogito will make even clearer. Can 
one say that the reflective act grasps, to the same degree and in the same way, the 
/ on the one hand and thinking consciousness on the other? Husserl insists on the 
fact that the certainty of the reflective act stems from the way that in it, 
consciousness is grasped without facets, without profile, as a totality (without 
Abschattungen). 33 So much is evident. On the contrary, the spatio-temporal 
object always yields itself via an infinity of aspects and it is basically nothing 
other than the ideal unity of this infinity. As for the meanings, the eternal truths, 
they affirm their transcendence by giving themselves, from the moment they 
appear, as independent of time, whereas the consciousness that grasps them is, on 
the contrary, rigorously individualized in duration. My question is this: when a 
reflective consciousness grasps the T think', is what it is grasping a full, concrete 
consciousness grasped in a real moment of concrete duration? The answer is clear: 
the I is not given as a concrete moment, 34 a perishable structure of my present 
consciousness; on the contrary, it affirms its permanence beyond that 
consciousness and all consciousnesses and — even though, to be sure, it is hardly 
similar to a mathematical truth — its type of existence is much closer to that of 
eternal truths than to that of consciousness. It is even evident that the reason why 
Descartes moved from the Cogito to the idea of thinking substance is that he 
believed that I and 'think' are on the same level. We saw just now that Husserl, 
albeit more subtly, can basically be charged with making the same error. Of 
course, I acknowledge that he grants to the I a special transcendence which is not 
that of the object and which could be called a transcendence 'from above'. But 
what right does he have to do this? And how are we to explain this privileged 
treatment of the I if it is not by metaphysical or critical preoccupations that have 
nothing to do with phenomenology? Let us be more radical and affirm quite 
fearlessly that all transcendence must fall under the scope of the epoche; 35 this will 
perhaps mean we avoid writing such muddled chapters as section 61 of the 
Ideas. The I affirms itself as transcendent in the 'I think', and this is because it is 
not of the same nature as transcendental consciousness. 

We should note, further, that the I does not appear to reflection as the reflected 
consciousness: it gives itself through reflected consciousness. To be sure, it is 
grasped by intuition and is the object of evidential certainty. But Husserl has 
rendered philosophy a signal service by distinguishing between different kinds of 
certainty. 36 Well, it is all too certain that the / of the 'I think' is the object of 


neither an apodictic nor an adequate evidential certainty. It is not apodictic 
because in saying 7, we affirm much more than we know. It is not adequate 
because the I presents itself as an opaque reality whose content would need to be 
unfolded. Of course, it manifests itself as the source of consciousness but this in 
itself ought to make us reflect; indeed, by this very fact it appears as if veiled, 
indistinct through consciousness, like a pebble at the bottom of the water — and 
by this fact, too, it is immediately deceptive, since we know that nothing except 
consciousness can be the source of consciousness. Furthermore, if the I is part of 
consciousness, there will then be two I's: the I of reflective consciousness and 
the I of reflected consciousness. Fink, 37 Husserl's disciple, even knows of a third 
I, the I of transcendental consciousness, liberated by the epoche. Hence the 
problem of the three I's, whose difficulties he rather blandly mentions. For us, 
this problem is quite simply insoluble, since it is unacceptable for any 
communication to be established between the reflective I and the reflected I, if 
they are real elements of consciousness; nor, in particular, is it acceptable for 
them to achieve a final identity in a single I. 

To conclude this analysis, it seems to me that we can make the following 

1 The I is an existent. It has a type of concrete existence, doubtless different 
from that of mathematical truths, meanings, or spatio-temporal beings, but 
just as real. It gives itself as transcendent. 

2 The I yields itself to a special kind of intuition which grasps it behind 
reflected consciousness, in a way that is always inadequate. 

3 The I only ever appears on the occasion of a reflective act. In this case, the 
complex structure of consciousness is as follows: there is an unreflected act 
of reflection without I which is aimed at a reflected consciousness. This 
reflected consciousness becomes the object of the reflecting consciousness, 
without, however, ceasing to affirm its own object (a chair, a mathematical 
truth, etc). At the same time a new object appears which is the occasion for 
an affirmation of the reflective consciousness and is in consequence neither 
on the same level as unreflected consciousness (because the latter is an 
absolute that has no need of reflective consciousness in order to exist), nor 
on the same level as the object of the unreflected consciousness (chair, etc.). 
This transcendent object of the reflective act is the I. 

4 The transcendent I must fall under the phenomenological reduction. The 
Cogito affirms too much. The sure and certain content of the 
pseudo-'cogito' is not 'I am conscious of this chair', but 'there is 
consciousness of this chair'. This content is sufficient to constitute an 
infinite and absolute field for the investigations of phenomenology. 



The theory of the material presence of the me 

For Kant and for Husserl, the I is a formal structure of consciousness. I have tried 
to show that an I is never purely formal, that it is always, even when conceived 
in the abstract, an infinite contraction of the material me. But we must, before we 
go any further, rid ourselves of a purely psychological theory that affirms, for 
psychological reasons, the material presence of the me in all our consciousnesses. 
This is the theory of amour-propre put forward by the French moralists. In their 
view, the love of self — and consequently the me — is hidden in all feelings, in a 
thousand different disguises. In a very general way, the me, by virtue of this love 
that it bears to itself, is seen as desiring for itself all the objects that it desires. 
The essential structure of each of my acts would then be a reference to myself. 
The 'return to me myself would be constitutive of all consciousness. 

To object to this thesis that this return to me myself is in no way present to 
consciousness — for example when I am thirsty, and see a glass of water that 
appears desirable to me — is no real problem for it; it would willingly grant us as 
much. La Rochefoucauld is one of the first to have made use of the unconscious 
without naming it: for him, amour-propre conceals itself in the most diverse 
disguises. We have to track it down before we can grasp it. 38 More generally, it 
was subsequently admitted that the me, while it may not be present to 
consciousness, is hidden behind it, and is the pole of attraction of all our 
representations and of all our desires. The me thus seeks to procure the object for 
itself so as to satisfy its desire. In other words, it is desire (or, if you prefer, the 
desiring me) which is given as an end and the desired object that is the means. 

Now, the interest of this thesis seems to me to reside in the way it brings out 
an error very frequently committed by psychologists — an error consisting in 
confusing the essential structure of reflective acts with that of unreflected acts. 39 
One thereby overlooks the fact that there are always two forms of possible 
existence for a consciousness; and, each time that the observed consciousnesses 
are given as unreflected, a reflective structure is superimposed on them — a 
structure that is thoughtlessly claimed to be unconscious. 

I feel pity for Peter and I come to his aid. For my consciousness, one thing 
alone exists at that moment: Peter-having-to-be-aided. This quality of 'having-to- 
be-aided' is to be found in Peter. It acts on me like a force. Aristotle had already 
said as much: it is the desirable that moves the desirer. At this level, desire 40 is 
given to consciousness as centrifugal (it transcends itself, it is the thetic 
consciousness of 'having-to-be' and the non-thetic consciousness of itself) and 
impersonal (there is no me: I am faced with the pain of Peter in the same way I 
am faced with the colour of this inkwell. There is an objective world of things 
and actions that have been performed or are going to be performed, and actions 
come to adhere like qualities to the things that summon them). Now, this first 
moment of desire — supposing it has not completely escaped the notice of the 
theorists of amour-propre — is not considered by them to be a complete and 


autonomous moment. They have imagined behind it another state which remains 
in the shadows: for example, I aid Peter so as to put an end to the unpleasant 
state in which the sight of his sufferings has put me. But this unpleasant state 
cannot be known as such and one can attempt to suppress it only after an act of 
reflection. A feeling of displeasure on the unreflected level is transcended in the 
same way as the unreflected consciousness of pity. It is the intuitive grasp of the 
disagreeable quality of an object. And, insofar as it may be accompanied by a 
desire, it desires not to suppress itself but to suppress the unpleasant object. 41 It 
is thus a waste of time to place behind the unreflected consciousness of pity an 
unpleasant state that will then be viewed as the profound cause of the act of pity. 
If this consciousness of displeasure does not turn back on itself in order to posit 
itself by itself as an unpleasant state, we will remain indefinitely in the 
impersonal and unreflected domain. And thus, without even realizing it, the 
theorists of amour-propre suppose that the reflected comes first, as something 
original and concealed in the unconscious. There is hardly any need to bring out 
the absurdity of such a hypothesis. Even if the unconscious exists, 42 who will 
ever be persuaded that it conceals within itself spontaneities of a reflected form? 
Is it not the definition of the reflected that it is posited by a consciousness? But in 
addition, how can we accept that the reflected comes first with relation to the 
unreflected? We can doubtless conceive a consciousness appearing immediately 
as reflected, in certain cases. But even then, the unreflected has an ontological 
priority over the reflected, since it does not need to be reflected in order to exist, 
and reflection presupposes the intervention of a second-order consciousness. 

We thus reach the following conclusion: unreflected consciousness must be 
considered as autonomous. 43 It is a totality that has no need to be completed and 
we must recognize without further ado that the quality of unreflected desire is 
that it transcends itself by grasping, in the object, the quality of desirability. It is 
just as if we lived in a world where objects, apart from their qualities of heat, 
odour, shape, etc., had those of repulsive, attractive, charming, useful, etc., etc., 
and as if these qualities were forces that performed certain actions on us. In the 
case of reflection, and in this case alone, affectivity is posed for itself, as desire, 
fear, etc.; in the case of reflection alone can I think 'I hate Peter', 'I pity Paul', 
etc. It is thus, conversely to what has been maintained, on this level that egotistic 
life is placed, and on the unreflected level that is placed impersonal life (which 
of course does not mean that all reflective life is necessarily egotistic nor all 
unreflected life necessarily altruistic). Reflection 'poisons' desire. 44 On the 
unreflected level I come to Peter's aid because Peter is 'needing-to-be-aided'. But 
if my state is suddenly transformed into a reflected state, then I am watching 
myself acting, in the same sense that we say of someone that he is listening to 
himself talking. It is no longer Peter who attracts me, it is my helpful 
consciousness that appears to me as having to be perpetuated. Even if I merely 
think that I must pursue my action because 'it is good', the good qualifies my 
behaviour, my pity, etc. La Rochefoucauld's psychology has found its rightful 
place. And yet, it is not true: it is not my fault if my reflective life poisons 'in 


essence' my spontaneous life, and in any case reflective life generally 
presupposes spontaneous life. Before being 'poisoned', my desires were pure; it 
is the point of view I have adopted towards them that has poisoned them. La 
Rochefoucauld's psychology is true only for the particular feelings that take their 
origin from reflective life, i.e. those that are given first and foremost as my 
feelings, instead of first being transcended towards an object. 

Thus the purely psychological examination of 'inner-worldly' consciousness 
leads us to the same conclusions as our phenomenological study: the I must not 
be sought in unreflected states of consciousness nor behind them. The me 
appears only with the reflective act, as the noematic correlative 45 of a reflective 
intention. We are starting to glimpse how the I and the me are in fact one. We are 
going to try and show that this Ego, of which I and me are merely two 
faces, constitutes the ideal (noematic) and indirect unity of the infinite series of 
our reflected consciousnesses. 

The I is the Ego as the unity of its actions. The me is the Ego as the unity of 
states and qualities. The distinction drawn between these two aspects of a single 
reality strikes me as simply functional, not to say grammatical. 



The Ego is not directly the unity of reflected consciousnesses. There exists an 
immanent unity of these consciousnesses, namely the stream of consciousness 
constituting itself as the unity of itself — and a transcendent unity: states and 
actions. The Ego is the unity of states and actions — only optionally of qualities. It 
is the unity of transcendent unities, and itself transcendent. It is a transcendent 
pole of synthetic unity, like the object-pole of the unreflected attitude. But this 
pole appears only in the world of reflection. I am going to examine successively 
the constitution of states, actions and qualities, and the way the me appears as 
the pole of these transcendences. 46 


States as transcendent unities of consciousnesses 

The state appears to reflective consciousness. It gives itself to that consciousness 
and becomes the object of a concrete intuition. If I hate Peter, my hatred of Peter 
is a state that I can grasp by reflection. This state is present to the gaze of 
reflective consciousness, it is real. Should we thus conclude that it is immanent, 
sure and certain? Of course not. We must not make of reflection a mysterious 
and infallible power, or believe that everything that reflection attains is indubitable 
because it is attained by reflection. Reflection has de facto and de jure limits. It 
is a consciousness that posits a consciousness. Everything that it affirms about 
this consciousness is certain and adequate. But if other objects appear to it 
through this consciousness, these objects have no reason to participate in the 


characteristics of consciousness. Let us consider a reflective experience of 
hatred. 47 I see Peter, I feel a kind of profound upheaval of revulsion and anger on 
seeing him (I am already on the reflective level); this upheaval is consciousness. 
I cannot be in error when I say: I feel at this moment a violent revulsion towards 
Peter. But is this experience of revulsion hatred? Obviously not. It is in any case 
not given as such. After all, I have hated Peter for a long time and I think I always 
will hate him. So an instantaneous consciousness of revulsion cannot be my 
hatred. Even if I limit it to what it is, to an instantaneous moment, I will not be 
able to continue talking of hatred. I would say: 'I feel revulsion for Peter at this 
momenf, and in this way I will not implicate the future. But precisely because of 
this refusal to implicate the future, I would cease to hate. 

But my hatred appears to me at the same time as my experience of revulsion. 
But it appears through this experience. It is given precisely as not being limited 
to this experience. It is given, in and by each movement of disgust, revulsion and 
anger, but at the same time it is not any of them, it goes beyond each of them as 
it affirms its permanence. Hatred affirms that it was already appearing when, 
yesterday, I thought of Peter with so much fury, and that it will appear 
tomorrow. Furthermore, it draws, by itself, a distinction between being and 
seeming, since it is given as continuing to be even when I am absorbed in other 
occupations and when no consciousness reveals it. This is enough, it seems to 
me, for one to be able to affirm that hatred is not a form of consciousness. It 
extends beyond the instantaneous moment of consciousness and it is not subject 
to the absolute law of consciousness for which there is no distinction possible 
between appearance and being. Hatred is thus a transcendent object. Each 
Erlebnis 4S reveals it in its entirety but at the same time is merely a profile of it, a 
projection (an Abschattung). Hatred is a letter of credit for an infinity of angry or 
revulsed consciousnesses, in the past and the future. It is the transcendent unity of 
that infinity of consciousnesses. So, to say 'I hate' or 'I love' on the occasion of 
a singular consciousness of attraction or revulsion is to perform a veritable 
infinitization, somewhat analogous to the one we carry out when we perceive an 
inkwell or the blue of the blotter. 

No more is needed for the rights of reflection to be singularly limited: it is 
certain that I loathe Peter, but it is and will always remain doubtful whether I 
hate him. 49 This affirmation, after all, goes infinitely beyond the power of 
reflection. We must not, of course, conclude that hatred is a mere hypothesis, an 
empty concept. It truly is a real object, which I grasp through the Erlebnis, but 
this object is outside consciousness and the very nature of its existence implies 
its 'dubitability'. Thus reflection has a domain of certainty and a domain of 
doubt, a sphere of adequate evidence and a sphere of inadequate evidence. Pure 
reflection (which is, however, not necessarily phenomenological reflection) stays 
with the given without making any claims about the future. This can be seen 
when someone, after exclaiming in anger, 'I hate you,' corrects himself and says, 
'That's not true, I don't hate you, it was anger that made me say it.' We can here 
see two reflections: the one, impure and complicitous, which carries out an 


infinitization of the field, and which suddenly constitutes hatred through the 
Erlebnis as its transcendent object, and the other, pure, simply descriptive, which 
disarms unreflected consciousness by giving it back its instantaneous character. 
These two reflections have apprehended the same, certain data but the one 
reflection has affirmed more than it knew and has aimed itself through reflected 
consciousness at an object situated outside consciousness. 

As soon as we leave the domain of pure or impure consciousness and meditate 
on its results, we are tempted to merge the transcendent sense of the Erlebnis 
with its immanent character. This merging leads the psychologist to two sorts of 
error. The first error lies in this: from the fact that I am often mistaken in my 
feelings, or from the fact that, for example, I sometimes think I love where in 
fact I hate, I conclude that introspection is deceptive; in this case I definitively 
separate my state from the ways in which it appears; I believe that a symbolic 
interpretation of all appearances (considered as symbols) is necessary to 
determine the nature of the feeling, and I suppose a causal relation between the 
feeling and the ways in which it appears: and then we are back with the 
unconscious. The second error takes this form: from the fact that (as opposed to 
the first case) I know that my introspection is accurate, that I cannot doubt my 
consciousness of revulsion while I have it, I believe that I am authorized to 
transfer this certainty to the feeling, I conclude that my hatred can be enclosed in 
the immanence and the adequacy of an instantaneous consciousness. 

Hatred is a state. And by using this term, I have tried to express the character 
of passivity that constitutes it. Undoubtedly it will be objected that hatred is a 
force, an irresistible impulse, etc. But an electric current or a waterfall are also 
forces to be reckoned with; does this in any way lessen the passivity and inertia 
of their nature? Do they any the less receive their energy from outside! The 
passivity of a spatio-temporal thing is constituted on the basis of its existential 
relativity. A relative existence can only be passive, since the least activity would 
free it from its relative status and would constitute it as absolute. Likewise hatred, 
as an existence relative to the reflective consciousness, is inert. And, of course, 
in talking of the inertia of hatred, we do not mean anything other than that it 
appears that way to consciousness. Do we not say, after all, 'My hatred was 
reawakened...', 'His hatred was countered by the violent desire to...', etc? Are 
not the struggles of hatred against morality, censorship, etc., imagined as 
conflicts between physical forces, to the extent that Balzac and most novelists 
(sometimes even Proust) apply to states the principle of the independence of 
forces? The entire psychology of states (and non-phenomenological psychology 
in general) is a psychology of the inert. 

The state is given as being, to a certain extent, intermediary between the body 
(the immediate 'thing') and the Erlebnis. However, it is not given as acting in the 
same way on the body as it is on consciousness. On the body, its action is openly 
and obviously causal. It is the cause of my mimicry, the cause of my gestures: 
'Why were you so unpleasant to Peter?' 'Because I detest him.' But the same 
cannot possibly be true (except in theories constructed a priori and with empty 


concepts, such as Freudianism) of consciousness. In fact, there is no case in 
which reflection can be mistaken about the spontaneity of the reflected 
consciousness; it is the domain of reflective certainty. Thus the relation between 
hatred and the instantaneous consciousness of disgust is constructed in such a 
way as to cope simultaneously with the demands of hatred (the demand to be 
first, to be the origin), and the sure and certain data of reflection (spontaneity); 
the consciousness of disgust appears to reflection as a spontaneous emanation of 
hatred. We encounter here for the first time this notion of emanation, which is so 
important whenever inert psychical states have to be linked with the 
spontaneities of consciousness. Repulsion appears, as it were, to produce itself a? 
the prompting of hatred and at the expense of hatred. Hatred appears through it 
as that from which it emanates. We readily acknowledge that the relation of 
hatred to the particular Erlebnis of repulsion is not logical. It is, to be sure, a 
magical link. 50 But our aim has simply been to describe and nothing more, and, 
in addition, we shall soon see that it is in exclusively magical terms that we have 
to describe the relations between the me and consciousness. 


The constitution of actions 

I shall not be attempting to establish a distinction between active consciousness 
and simply spontaneous consciousness. Furthermore, it seems to me that this is 
one of the most difficult problems in phenomenology. I would simply like to 
point out that concerted action is before all else (and whatever the nature of the 
active consciousness may be) a transcendent factor. This is evident for actions such 
as 'playing the piano', 'driving a car', or 'writing', because these actions are 
'taken' from the world of things. But purely psychical actions, such as doubting, 
reasoning, meditating, making a hypothesis, must also be conceived of as 
transcendences. What misleads us here is the fact that action is not merely the 
noematic unity of a stream of consciousness; it is also a concrete realization. But 
it must not be forgotten that action requires time in which to be carried out. It has 
individual sections and moments. To these moments there correspond active, 
concrete consciousnesses, and the reflection that is aimed at the consciousnesses 
apprehends the total action in an intuition which displays it as the transcendent 
unity of active consciousnesses. In this sense, it is possible to say that the 
spontaneous doubt that fills me when I glimpse an object in the half-light is a 
consciousness, but the methodical doubt of Descartes is an action, i.e. a 
transcendent object of reflective consciousness. The danger here is evident: when 
Descartes says, T doubt therefore I am', is he talking about the spontaneous 
doubt that reflective consciousness grasps in its instantaneous character, or is he 
talking of nothing other than the enterprise of doubting? This ambiguity, as we 
have seen, can be the source of serious errors. 



Qualities as optional unities of states 

The Ego is immediately, as we shall see, the transcendent unity of states and 
actions. Nonetheless, there may be an intermediary between the Ego on the one 
hand and states and actions on the other, namely, quality. When we have several 
times over experienced hatred for different people or deep-rooted rancour or 
long-lasting anger, we unify these various manifestations by intending a 
psychical disposition to produce them. This psychical disposition (I am full of 
rancour, I am capable of violent hatred, I am inclined to anger) is naturally 
something more than and different from a simple average. It is a transcendent 
object. It represents the substratum of states just as states represent the 
substratum of Erlebnisse. But its relation to feelings is not a relation of 
emanation. Emanation merely links together consciousnesses to psychical 
passivities. The relation of quality to state (or to action) is a relation of 
actualization. The quality is given as a potentiality, a virtuality which, under the 
influence of various factors, may pass over into actuality. Its actuality is 
precisely the state (or the action). The essential difference between quality and 
state is evident. The state is the noematic unity of spontaneities, the quality is the 
unity of objective passivities. In the absence of any consciousness of hatred, 
hatred is given as an existent in act. Conversely, in the absence of any feeling of 
rancour, the corresponding quality remains a potentiality. Potentiality is not mere 
possibility: 51 it is presented as something that really exists, but whose mode of 
existence consists of remaining as a potentiality. To this type naturally belong 
failings, virtues, tastes, talents, tendencies, instincts, etc. These unifications are 
always possible. The influence of preconceived ideas and social factors is 
preponderant here. However, they are never indispensable, since states and 
actions can find directly in the Ego the unity that they require. 


The constitution of the Ego as a pole of actions, states, and 

We have just learnt to distinguish between the 'psychical' and consciousness. 
The psychical is the transcendent object of the reflective consciousness; 11 ' 52 it is 
also the object of the science called psychology. The Ego appears to reflection as 
a transcendent object realizing the permanent synthesis of the psychical. The Ego 
is on the same side as the psychical. 53 I will note here that the Ego under 
consideration is psychical and not psycho-physical. It is not through abstraction 
that we separate out these two aspects of the Ego. The psycho-physical me is a 
synthetic enrichment of the psychical Ego, which can easily (and without any 
kind of reduction) exist in the free state. It is certain, for example, that when 
someone says, T am an indecisive person,' it is not the psycho-physical me that 
is being directly indicated. 


It would be tempting to constitute the Ego as a 'subject-pole', like that 'object- 
pole' which Husserl places at the centre of the noematic kernel. This object-pole 
is an X, which is the support of determinations: 

The predicates are, however, predicates of 'something', and this 
'something' also belongs, and obviously inseparably, to the core in 
question: it is the central point of unity of which we spoke above. It is the 
central point of connection or the 'bearer' of the predicates, but in no way 
is it a unity of them In the sense in which any complex, any combination, of 
the predicates would be called a unity. It is necessarily to be distinguished 
from them, although not to be placed along-side and separated from them; 
just as, conversely, they are its predicates: unthinkable without it, yet 
distinguishable from it. e 

Husserl is hereby intent on underlining the way he considers things as syntheses 
that are at least ideally analysable. Doubt-less, this tree, this table are synthetic 
complexes and every quality is linked to every other quality. But it is linked to it 
insofar as it belongs to the same object X. What is logically prior are the 
unilateral relations by which each quality belongs (directly or indirectly) to that 
X as a predicate belongs to a subject. Consequently, an analysis is always 
possible. This conception is highly debatable. 54 But here is not the place to 
examine it. The important thing as far as we are concerned is the fact that an 
indissoluble synthetic totality that could support itself would have no need of any 
supporting X, on condition, of course, that it is really and concretely 
unanalysable. It is useless, for instance, if we consider a melody, to suppose 
there is some X which acts as a support for the different notes. 55 The unity stems 
in this case from the absolute indissolubility of elements which cannot be 
conceived of as separate, except by abstraction. The subject of the predicate will 
here be the concrete totality, and the predicate will be a quality abstractly 
separated from the totality and gaining its full meaning only when it is linked 
back to the totality/ 

For these very reasons, I refuse to see in the Ego a sort of X pole acting as the 
support for psychical phenomena. Such an X would by definition be indifferent 
to the psychical qualities of which it would be the support. But the Ego, as we 
shall see, is never indifferent to its states, it is 'compromised' by them. Now, 
precisely, a support can never be compromised in this way by what it supports 
except when it is a concrete totality that supports and contains its own qualities. 
The Ego is nothing other than the concrete totality of states and actions that it 
supports. Doubtless it is transcendent to all the states that it unifies, but not as an 
abstract X whose mission is merely to unify: it is, rather, the infinite totality of 
states and actions that never permits itself to be reduced to one action or one 
state. If one were looking for an analogy for the unreflected consciousness of 
what the Ego is for second-order consciousness, in my view we should think 
rather of the World, conceived as the infinite synthetic totality of all things. It 


also happens, indeed, that we grasp the World beyond our immediate 
surroundings as a vast concrete existence. In this case, the things surrounding us 
appear merely as the extreme point of that world which surpasses them and 
envelopes them. The Ego is to psychical objects what the World is to things. 
However, the appearance of the World in the background of things is quite rare; 
special circumstances are required (well described by Heidegger in Sein und 
Zeit) for the world to 'unveil' itself. 56 The Ego, on the contrary, always appears 
on the horizon of states. Each state, each action is given as being separable only 
by abstraction from the Ego. And if judgement separates the T from its state (as 
in the phrase, 'I am in love'), this can only be so as to link them immediately 
together; the movement of separation would lead to an empty, false meaning if it 
were not given as incomplete and if it were not completed by a movement of 

This transcendent totality participates in the dubious character of all 
transcendence; in other words, everything that is given us by our intuitions of the 
Ego can always be contradicted by later intuitions and is given as such. For 
example, I may see clearly that I am prone to anger, jealous, etc., and yet I may 
be wrong. In other words, I may be wrong in thinking that I have a me of that 
sort. The error is in any case not committed on the level of judgement, but 
already on the level of prejudgemental evidential certainty. This dubious 
character of my Ego — or even the intuitive error that I commit — does not mean 
that I have a real me that I am ignorant of, but only that the Ego intended carries 
within itself the character of dubitability (in certain cases, the character of 
falseness). One cannot rule out the met aphysical hypothesis that my Ego is not 
composed of elements that have existed in reality (ten years or one second ago), 
but is merely constituted by false memories. The power of the 'evil genius' 
extends this far. 

But if it is the nature of the Ego to be a dubious object, it does not follow that 
it is hypothetical. Indeed, the Ego is the spontaneous transcendent unification of 
our states and our actions. In this capacity, it is not a hypothesis. I do not say to 
myself, 'Perhaps I have an Ego', in the way I can say to myself, 'Perhaps I hate 
Peter'. I am not here seeking for a unifying meaning to my acts. When I unify 
my consciousnesses under the rubric 'hatred', I add to them a certain meaning, I 
qualify them. But when I incorporate my states into the concrete totality me, I 
add nothing to them. And this is because the relation of the Ego to the qualities, 
states and actions is neither a relation of emanation (like the relation of 
consciousness to feelings), nor a relation of actualization (like the relation of 
quality to state). It is a relation of poetic production (in the sense of poieiri), or, if 
you prefer, of creation. 

Everyone, by referring to the results of his intuition, can observe that the Ego 
is given as producing its states. I am here undertaking a description of this 
transcendent Ego as it is revealed to intuition. I will thus start out from this 
undeniable fact: each new fact is attached directly (or indirectly, through quality) 
to the Ego as to its origin. This mode of creation is indeed a creation ex nihilo, in 


this sense that the state is not given as having previously been within the Ego. 
Even if hatred is given as the actualization of a certain potentiality for rancour or 
hatred, it remains something completely new in comparison with the potentiality 
that it actualizes. Thus the unifying act of reflection links each new state in a 
very special way to the concrete totality me. It is not limited to grasping it as joining 
that totality, as melting into it; it intends a relation that crosses time backwards 
and gives the me as the source of the state. The same is of course true for actions 
in relation to the I. As for qualities, although they qualify the me, they are not 
given as something by which it exists (as is for example the case for an 
aggregate: each stone, each brick exists by itself and their aggregate exists by 
each one of them). But, conversely, the Ego maintains its qualities by a veritable 
continuous creation. However, we do not grasp the Ego as being finally a pure 
creative source besides qualities. It does not seem to us as if we could find a 
skeletal pole if we removed one by one all the qualities. If the Ego appears as 
lying beyond each quality or even beyond all of them, this is because it is opaque 
like an object: we would have to undertake an infinite stripping away if we were 
to remove all its potentialities. And, at the end of this stripping away, there 
would be nothing left, the Ego would have vanished. The Ego is the creator of its 
states and sustains its qualities in existence by a sort of conserving spontaneity. 
This creative or conserving spontaneity should not be confused with 
responsibility, which is a special case of creative production starting from the 
Ego. It would be interesting to study the different kinds of procession leading 
from the Ego to its states. Most of the time, what is involved is a magical 
procession. On other occasions, it may be rational (in the case of a reflected will, 
for example). But it always retains a ground of unintelligibility, which I will be 
giving an account of shortly. With different consciousnesses (pre-logical, 
infantile, schizophrenic, logical, etc.), the nuance of creation varies, but it always 
remains a poetic production. A most particular case, of the greatest interest, is 
that of the psychosis of influence. What does a patient mean by the words, 'They 
are making me have wicked thoughts'? I will try to study this in another work. 57 
I will remark here, meanwhile, that the spontaneity of the Ego is not denied: it is 
to some extent spellbound, 5 * but it is still there. 

But this spontaneity must not be confused with that of consciousness. The Ego, 
after all, being an object, is passive. So what we have here is a pseudo- 
spontaneity that would find suitable symbols in the gushing forth of a spring, a 
geyser, etc. In other words, we are dealing with a mere appearance. Real 
spontaneity must be perfectly clear: it is what it produces and cannot be anything 
other. Synthetically linked to anything other than itself, it would indeed include a 
certain obscurity and even a certain passivity in the transformation. We would be 
forced, in fact, to admit that it is turning from itself into something else, which 
would in turn presuppose that spontaneity exceeds itself. The spontaneity of the 
Ego exceeds itself because the Ego's hatred, although unable to exist by itself 
alone, possesses in spite of everything a certain independence vis-a-vis the Ego. 
As a result, the Ego is always surpassed by what it produces, even though, from 


another point of view, it is what it produces. Hence those familiar exclamations 
of astonishment: 'To think that I could have done that! ', 'To think that I could hate 
my father!' etc., etc. Here, obviously, the concrete ensemble of the me, as 
intuited hitherto, weighs down on this productive I and holds it back a little from 
what that I has just produced. The link between the Ego and its states thus 
remains an unintelligible spontaneity. 59 It is this spontaneity that was described 
by Bergson in Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of 
Consciousness, it is this spontaneity that he takes for freedom, without realizing 
that he is describing an object and not a consciousness and that the link he is 
positing is perfectly irrational because the producer is passive vis-a-vis the thing 
created. However irrational it may be, this link is nonetheless the one that we 
observe in the intuition of the Ego. And we grasp its meaning: the Ego is an 
object apprehended but also constituted by reflective knowledge. It is a virtual 
locus of unity, and consciousness constitutes it as going in completely the reverse 
direction from that followed by real production; what is really first is 
consciousnesses, through which are constituted states, then, through these, the 
Ego. But, as the order is reversed by a consciousness that imprisons itself in the 
World in order to flee from itself, consciousnesses are given as emanating from 
states, and states as produced by the Ego. 60 As a consequence, consciousness 
projects its own spontaneity into the object Ego so as to confer on it the creative 
power that is absolutely necessary to it. However, this spontaneity, represented 
and hypostatized in an object, becomes a bastard, degenerate spontaneity, which 
magically preserves its creative potentiality while becoming passive. Hence the 
profound irrationality of the notion of Ego. We are acquainted with other 
degraded aspects of conscious spontaneity. I will mention just one: an expressive 61 
and subtle mimicry can yield to us the Erlebnis of our interlocutor with all its 
meaning, all its nuances, all its freshness. But it yields that Erlebnis to us in a 
degraded, that is to say, passive form. We are thus surrounded by magical 
objects which retain, as it were, a memory of the spontaneity of consciousness, 
while still being objects of the world. That is why man is always a sorcerer for man. 
Indeed, this poetic link between two passivities, one of which creates the other 
spontaneously, is the very basis of sorcery: it is the deep sense of 'participation'. 
That is also why we are sorcerers for ourselves, each time that we take our me 
into consideration. 

By virtue of this passivity, the Ego is capable of being affected. Nothing can 
act on consciousness, since it is the cause of itself. But, on the contrary, the Ego 
that produces is affected by the repercussions from what it produces. It is 
'compromised' 62 by what it produces. The relations are here inverted: the action 
or the state turns back on to the Ego in order to qualify it. This brings us back 
again to the relationship of participation. Every new state produced by the Ego 
colours and nuances the Ego in the moment the Ego produces it. The Ego is to 
some extent spellbound by this action, and participates in it. It is not the crime 
committed by Raskolnikov that is incorporated into his Ego. Or rather, to be 
precise, it is the crime, but in a condensed form, in the shape of a bruise. Thus 


everything produced by the Ego acts upon it; we need to add: and only what it 
produces. It might be objected that the me can be transformed by external events 
(ruin, bereavement, disappointments, change of social environment, etc.). But 
this is only insofar as they are for it the occasion of states or actions. It is just as 
if the Ego were preserved by its ghostly spontaneity from any direct contact with 
the exterior, as if it could communicate with the World only through the 
intermediary of states and actions. The reason for this isolation is clear: it is quite 
simply because the Ego is an object that appears only to reflection, and which 
thereby is radically cut off from the World. It does not live on the same level. 

Just as the Ego is an irrational synthesis of activity and passivity, it is also an 
irrational synthesis of inwardness and transcendence. It is, in one sense, more 
'inward' to consciousness than are states. It is in the most exact sense the 
inwardness of reflected consciousness, as contemplated by reflective 
consciousness. But it is easy to understand that reflection, in contemplating 
inwardness, makes it an object placed before it. But what do we mean by 
inwardness? Merely this: that for consciousness, to be and to know oneself are 
one and the same thing. This can be expressed in different ways. I can say, for 
example, that, for consciousness, appearance is the absolute insofar as it is 
appearance, or else that consciousness is a being whose essence implies 
existence. 63 These different formulations allow us to conclude that inwardness is 
lived (that we 'exist inward "), but that it is not contemplated, since it would itself 
lie beyond contemplation, as its precondition. It would be useless to object 
that reflection posits reflected consciousness and thereby its inwardness. It is a 
special case: reflection and reflected are one and the same, as Husserl very 
clearly showed, 64 and the inwardness of the one melts into that of the other. But 
to posit inwardness as in front of oneself is perforce to give it the weight of an 
object. It is as if inwardness were closed back on itself and exhibited to us 
merely its external aspects; as if we had to 'go all round it' in order to understand 
it. And it is just in this way that the Ego yields itself to reflection: as an 
inwardness closed in on itself. It is inward for itself, not for consciousness. Of 
course, we are here dealing yet again with a contradictory composite; indeed, an 
absolute inwardness never has any outside. It can be conceived only through 
itself and this is why we cannot grasp the consciousnesses of another (for this 
reason alone, and not because bodies separate us). In reality, this degraded and 
irrational inwardness can be analysed into two highly specific structures: 
intimacy and indistinctness. In relation to consciousness, the Ego is given as 
intimate. It is just as if the Ego were part of consciousness, with the sole and 
essential difference that it is opaque to consciousness. And this opacity is 
grasped as lack of distinctness. Lack of distinctness, a notion frequently used in 
philosophy, in various forms, is inwardness seen from outside, or, if you prefer, 
the degraded projection of inwardness. It is this lack of distinctness that can be 
found for example in the well-known 'interpenetrative multiplicity' of Bergson. 
It is also this lack of distinctness, prior to the specifications of natura naturata, 
that we find in the God of several mystics. Sometimes it can be understood as a 


primordial undifferentiation of all qualities, sometimes as a pure form of being, 
prior to all qualification. These two forms of lack of distinctness belong to the 
Ego, depending on the way it is considered. In waiting, for example (or when 
Marcel Arland explains that an extra-ordinary event is needed to reveal the true 
me), 65 the Ego displays itself as a bare potentiality, which will become more 
precise and fixed as it comes into contact with events. g66 Conversely, after 
action, it seems that the Ego reabsorbs the finished act into an interpenetrative 
multiplicity. In both cases, what we have here is a concrete totality, but the 
totalitarian synthesis is performed with different intentions. Perhaps one might 
go so far as to say that the Ego, in relation to the past, is an interpenetrative 
multiplicity and, in relation to the future, a bare potentiality. But we must here 
beware of being excessively schematic. 

The me, as such, remains unknown to us. And that is easy to understand: it is 
given as an object. So the only method for getting to know it is observation, 
approximation, waiting, experience. But these procedures, which are perfectly 
suitable for the entire domain of the non-intimate transcendent, are not suitable 
here, by virtue of the very intimacy of the me. It is too present for one to look at 
it from a really external point of view. If we move away from it to gain the 
vantage of distance, it accompanies us in this withdrawal. It is infinitely close 
and I cannot circle round it. Am I lazy or hardworking? I will find out, no doubt, 
if I ask those who know me and if I ask them for their opinion. Or else, I can 
collect the facts that concern me and try to interpret them as objectively as if I 
were dealing with another person. But it would be futile to ask the me directly 
and try to take advantage of its intimacy to get to know it. Quite the contrary: it 
is this intimacy that bars our route. Thus, 'to know oneself well' is inevitably to 
look at oneself from the point of view of someone else, in other words from a 
point of view that is necessarily false. 67 And all those who have tried to know 
themselves will agree that this attempt at introspection appears, right from the 
start, as an effort to reconstitute, with detached pieces, with isolated fragments, 
what is originally given all at once, in a single surge. Thus the intuition of the 
Ego is a perpetually deceptive mirage, since, at one and the same time, it yields 
everything and it yields nothing. And how, indeed, could it be otherwise, since 
the Ego is not the real totality of consciousnesses (this totality would be self- 
contradictory, like any infinite totality actualized), but the ideal unity of all states 
and actions. Since it is ideal, of course, this unity may embrace an infinity of 
states. But it is easy to see that what is yielded to full, concrete intuition is 
merely this unity insofar as it incorporates into itself the present state. Starting 
from this concrete kernel, a greater or smaller number of empty intentions (a de 
jure infinity of them) are directed at the past and the future and aim at states and 
actions that are not presently given. Those who have any knowledge of 
phenomenology will not find it difficult to understand that the Ego is at one and 
the same time an ideal unity of states, the majority of which are absent, and a 
concrete totality giving itself entirely to intuition. This means simply that the Ego 
is a noematic, and not a noetic, unity. A tree or a chair does not exist in any other 


way. Of course, empty intentions can always be fulfilled, and absolutely any 
state, or any action, can always reappear to consciousness as being or having 
been produced by the Ego. 

Finally, what radically prevents one from acquiring any real knowledge of the 
Ego is the quite special way in which it is given to reflective consciousness. In 
fact, the Ego never appears except when we are not looking at it. The reflective 
gaze has to fix itself on the Erlebnis, insofar as it emanates from the state. Then, 
behind the state, on the horizon, the Ego appears. So it is never seen except 'out 
of the corner of one's eye'. The moment I turn my gaze on it and wish to reach it 
without going via the Erlebnis and the state, it vanishes. The reason is this: in 
seeking to grasp the Ego for itself and as the direct object of my consciousness, I 
fall back on to the unreflected level and the Ego disappears with the reflective 
act. Hence this impression of irritating uncertainty, which many philosophers 
translate by seeing the I as falling short of the state of consciousness and 
asserting that consciousness must turn round on itself in order to glimpse the I 
behind it. That is not the real reason: rather, the Ego is by nature elusive. 

It is however certain that the I appears on the unreflected level. If I am asked, 
'What are you doing?' and I reply, preoccupied as I am, 'I am trying to hang up 
this picture', or, T am repairing the rear tyre', these phrases do not transport us 
on to the level of reflection, I utter them without ceasing to work, without 
ceasing to envisage just the actions, insofar as they have been done or are still to 
be done — not insofar as I am doing them. But this T that I am dealing with here 
is not, however, a simple syntactic form. It has a meaning; it is quite simply an 
empty concept, destined to remain empty. Just as I can think of a chair in the 
absence of any chair and by virtue of a mere concept, in the same way I can think 
of the I in the absence of the I. This becomes obvious if we consider phrases such 
as, 'What are you doing this afternoon?' — 'I'm going to the office'; or, 'I met 
my friend Peter'; or, 'I really must write to him', etc., etc. But the I, in falling 
from the reflected to the unreflected level, does not merely empty itself. It becomes 
degraded: it loses its intimacy. The concept cannot ever be filled by the data of 
intuition since it is now aimed at something other than them. The I that we find here 
is to some extent that which supports the actions that (I) do or must do in the 
world, insofar as they are qualities of the world and not unities of 
consciousnesses. For example: the wood must be broken into little pieces for the 
fire to catch. It must: it is a quality of the wood and an objective relation between 
the wood and the fire that must be lit. Right now I am breaking the wood, i.e. the 
action is being realized in the world and the objective and empty support of this 
action is the I-concept. That is why the body and the body's images can complete 
the total degradation of the concrete I of reflection into an I-concept by acting as 
an illusory fulfilment for the latter. 6 8 say that T, am breaking wood, and I see 
and sense the object 'wood' in the act of breaking wood. The body thus acts as a 
visible and tangible symbol for the I. We can thus see the series of refractions 
and degradations that any 'egology' should focus on. 


Reflective consciousness - immanence - 

Intuitive Ego - transcendence - intimacy. 
(The domain of the psychical.) 

Un reflective level 

l-concept (optional) - an empty 
transcendent - without 'intimacy'. 
Body as illusory fulfilment of the l-concept. 
(The domain of the psycho-physical) 


The / and consciousness in the Cogito 

One might ask why the I appears on the occasion of the Cogito since the Cogito, 
if it is performed correctly, is the apprehension of a pure consciousness, without 
the constitution of a state or an action. The fact is that the I is not necessary here, 
since it is never the direct unity of consciousnesses. One can even suppose a 
consciousness performing a pure reflective act which would present itself to 
itself as a non-personal spontaneity. However, we have to consider the fact that 
the phenomenological reduction is never perfect. A whole host of psychological 
motivations plays a part here. When Descartes effects the Cogito, he does so in a 
way linked to methodical doubt, and to the ambition of 'making science 
advance', etc., which are actions and states. Thus the Cartesian method, doubt, 
etc., are given by nature as the enterprises of an I. It is altogether natural that the 
Cogito, which appears at the conclusion of these enterprises and which is given 
as logically linked to methodical doubt, sees an I appearing on its horizon. This I 
is a form of ideal link, a way of affirming that the Cogito is well and truly of the 
same form as doubt. In a word, the Cogito is impure, it is a spontaneous 
consciousness, no doubt, but one that remains synthetically linked to 
consciousnesses of states and actions. The proof of this lies in the fact that the 
Cogito is given at one and the same time as the logical result of doubt and also as 
what puts an end to that doubt. 69 A reflective grasp of spontaneous 
consciousness as a non-personal spontaneity would need to be achieved without 
any anterior motivation. It is always possible de jure, but remains quite 
improbable or, at least, extremely rare in our human condition. In any case, as I 
said above, the I that appears on the horizon of the T think' is not given as a 
producer of conscious spontaneity. Consciousness is produced over against it and 
moves towards it, comes to meet it. This is all that can be said. 


I would like, in conclusion, simply to present the three following remarks: 



The conception of the Ego that I am putting forward seems to me to bring about 
the liberation of the transcendental field at the same time as its purification. 

The transcendental field, purified of all egological structure, recovers its 
former limpidity. In one sense, it is a nothing, since all physical, psycho-physical 
and psychical objects, all truths, and all values are outside it, since the me has, 
for its part, ceased to be part of it. But this nothing is everything because it is the 
consciousness of all these objects. There is no longer an 'inner life' in the sense 
in which Brunschvicg 70 contrasts 'inner life' and 'spiritual life', since there is no 
longer anything that can be described as an object and can at the same time 
belong to the intimacy of consciousness. Doubts, remorse, the so-called 'crises 
of consciousness', etc., in short all the material of people's diaries become mere 
representations. And perhaps one could draw from this a few healthy precepts of 
moral discretion. But, in addition, we have to note that, from this point of view, 
my feelings and my states, my Ego itself, cease to be my exclusive property. Let 
me put it more precisely: up until now, a radical distinction has been drawn 
between the objectivity of the spatio-temporal thing or of an eternal truth and the 
subjectivity of psychical 'states'. It seemed that the subject enjoyed a privileged 
position vis-a-vis its own states. On this view, when two men speak about the 
same chair, they are speaking about one and the same thing — this chair which the 
one takes and lifts up is the same as the one which the other sees, there is no 
mere correspondence of images, there is a single object. But it seemed that when 
Paul tried to understand one of Peter's psychical states, he could not reach this 
state, an intuitive grasp of which belonged to Peter alone. He could merely 
envisage an equivalent, create empty concepts which attempted vainly to reach a 
reality that in essence was unavailable to intuition. Psychological understanding 
took place through analogy. Phenomenology has taught us that states are objects, 71 
that a feeling as such (of love or hatred) is a transcendent object and cannot 
contract into the unity of inwardness of a 'consciousness'. In consequence, if 
Peter and Paul are both speaking about Peter's love, for instance, it is no longer 
true that the one is speaking blindly and by analogy of what the other grasps 
fully. They are speaking of the same thing; they doubtless grasp it by different 
procedures, but these procedures can be equally intuitive. And Peter's feeling is 
no more certain for Peter than for Paul. It belongs, as far as both of them are 
concerned, to the category of objects that can be doubted. But this whole 
profound and new conception is compromised if the me of Peter, this me that 
hates or loves, remains an essential structure of consciousness. Feeling, indeed, 
remains attached to it. This feeling 'adheres' to the me. If the me is brought into 
consciousness, the feeling is brought along with it. I have come to the conclusion, 
on the contrary, that the me is a transcendent object like the state and that, 
therefore, it is accessible to two sorts of intuition: an intuitive grasp by the 
consciousness whose me it is, an intuitive grasp that is less clear, but no less 
intuitive, if grasped by other consciousnesses. In a word, Peter's me is accessible 


to my intuition as it is to Peter's and in both cases it is the object of inadequate 
evidence. If this is so, there is nothing 'impenetrable' left in Peter, apart from his 
consciousness itself. But this consciousness is radically impenetrable. By this I 
mean it is not merely refractory to intuition, but to thought. I cannot conceive 
Peter's consciousness without turning it into an object (since I do not conceive it 
as being my consciousness). I cannot conceive it, since it would need to be 
conceived as pure inwardness and transcendence at one and the same time, 
which is impossible. A consciousness can conceive of no other consciousness 
than itself. Thus we can distinguish, thanks to our conception of the me, a sphere 
accessible to psychology, in which the external method of observation and the 
introspective method have the same rights and can aid each other mutually — and 
a pure transcendental sphere accessible to phenomenology alone. 

This transcendental sphere is a sphere of absolute existence, i.e. a sphere of pure 
spontaneities, which are never objects and which determine themselves to exist. 
As the me is an object, it is obvious that I will never be able to say: my 
consciousness, i.e. the consciousness of my me (except in a purely designating 
sense, in the sense in which one says for example 'The day of my baptism'). The 
Ego is not the proprietor of consciousness, it is its object. To be sure, we 
spontaneously constitute our states and our actions as productions of the Ego. But 
our states and actions are also objects. We never have any direct intuition of the 
spontaneity of an instantaneous consciousness as produced by the Ego. That would 
be impossible. It is only on the level of meanings and psychological hypotheses 
that we can conceive of a similar production — and this error is possible only 
because on this level the Ego and consciousness are empty. In this sense, if we 
understand the 'I think' in such a way as to make thought into a production of the 
I, we have already constituted thought as passivity, as estate, i.e. as an object; 
we have left the level of pure reflection, in which the Ego doubtless appears, but 
on the horizon of spontaneity. The reflective attitude is expressed correctly by 
that celebrated phrase by Rimbaud (in the letter of the seer), 'I is an other'. The 
context proves that he merely meant that the spontaneity of consciousnesses 
cannot emanate from the I, it goes towards the I, it meets it, it allows it to be 
glimpsed under its limpid thickness but it is given above all as an individuated 
and impersonal spontaneity. The commonly accepted thesis, according to which 
our thoughts supposedly spring from an impersonal unconscious and become 
'personalized' by becoming conscious, seems to me a coarse and materialistic 
interpretation of a correct intuition. It has been supported by psychologists 72 who 
had understood very well that consciousness did not 'come out of the I, but who 
could not accept the idea of a spontaneity producing itself. These psychologists 
thus naively imagined that spontaneous consciousnesses 'came out of the 
unconscious where they already existed, without realizing that they had merely 
shifted the problem of existence one stage back, a problem that ultimately has to 
be formulated and that they had made more obscure, since the prior existence of 
spontaneities in pre-conscious limits would necessarily be a passive existence. 


I can thus formulate my thesis: transcendental consciousness is an impersonal 
spontaneity. It determines itself to exist at every instant, without us being able to 
conceive of anything before it. Thus every instant of our conscious lives reveals 
to us a creation ex nihilo. Not a new arrangement but a new existence. There is 
something that provokes anguish for each of us in thus grasping, as it occurs, this 
tireless creation of existence of which we are not the creators. On this level, man 
has the impression of eluding himself ceaselessly, overflowing himself, 
surprising himself by a richness that is always unexpected, and it is, once again, 
the unconscious to which he gives the task of accounting for the way in which 
the me is thus surpassed by consciousness. In fact, the me can do nothing to 
master this spontaneity, since the will is an object that is constituted for and by 
this spontaneity. The will aims at states, feelings, or things, but it never turns 
back round on to consciousness. This is easy to see in the few cases where we try 
to will a consciousness (I want to go to sleep, I do not want to think about that, 
etc.). In these different cases it is essentially necessary that the will be 
maintained and preserved by the consciousness that is radically opposed to the 
consciousness that it wanted to bring into being (if I want to go to sleep, I remain 
awake; if I do not want to think about this or that event, I think of it precisely for 
that reason). In my view, this monstrous spontaneity is at the origin of various 
types of psychasthenia. Consciousness takes fright at its own spontaneity 
because it senses that it lies beyond freedom. 73 This is what can clearly be seen 
from an example in Janet. 74 A young bride suffered from a terror that, when her 
husband left her alone, she would go over to the window and hail the passers-by 
as prostitutes do. Nothing in her upbringing, in her past, or in her character can 
serve as an explanation for such a fear. In my view, it is simply that a 
circumstance of no importance (reading, conversation, etc.) had caused in her 
what might be called a vertigo of possibility. She found herself monstrously free 
and this vertiginous liberty appeared to her on the occasion when she was free to 
make this gesture that she was afraid of making. But this vertigo can be 
understood only if consciousness suddenly appears to itself as infinitely 
overflowing in its possibilities the I that ordinarily acts as its unity. 

Perhaps, indeed, the essential function of the Ego is not so much theoretical as 
practical. I have pointed out, after all, that it does not bind closely together the 
unity of phenomena, that it is limited to reflecting an ideal unity, whereas real, 
concrete unity has long been achieved. But perhaps its essential role is to mask 
from consciousness its own spontaneity. 75 A phenomeno logical description of 
spontaneity would indeed show that spontaneity renders impossible any 
distinction between action and passion, and any conception of an autonomy of 
the will. These notions only have a meaning on the level where all activity is 
given as emanating from a passivity that it transcends, in short, on a level where 
man considers himself to be simultaneously both subject and object. But it is an 
essential necessity that we cannot distinguish between voluntary spontaneity and 
involuntary spontaneity. 


It is thus exactly as if consciousness constituted the Ego as a false 
representation of itself, as if consciousness hypnotized itself before this Ego 
which it has constituted, became absorbed in it, as if it made the Ego its 
safeguard and its law: it is, indeed, thanks to the Ego, that a distinction can be 
drawn between the possible and the real, between appearance and being, between 
what is willed and what is yielded to. 

But it may happen that consciousness suddenly produces itself on the pure 
reflective level. Not perhaps without an Ego, but overflowing the Ego on all 
sides, dominating it and supporting it outside itself by a continuous creation. On 
this level, there is no distinction between the possible and the real, because the 
appearance is the absolute. There are no more barriers, no more limits, nothing 
that can disguise consciousness from itself. Thus consciousness, realizing what 
might be called the fate of its spontaneity, 76 suddenly becomes filled with 
anguish. It is this absolute and irremediable anguish, this fear of oneself, that in 
my view is constitutive of pure consciousness and it is this that is also the key to 
the psychasthenic malady I mentioned. If the I of the 'I think' is the primary 
structure of consciousness, this anguish is impossible. If, on the contrary, my 
point of view is adopted, not only does it give us a coherent explanation for this 
malady, but we also possess a permanent reason for effecting the 
phenomenological reduction. As you will know, Fink, in his Kant-studien article, 
confesses not without melancholy that, so long as one remains in the 'natural' 
attitude, there is no reason, no 'motive', for performing the epoche. Indeed, this 
natural attitude is perfectly coherent and one can find in it none of those 
contradictions which, according to Plato, led the philosopher to carry out a 
philosophical conversion. Thus the epoche appears in Husserl's phenomenology 
like a miracle. Husserl himself, in the Cartesian Meditations, makes a very 
vague allusion to certain psychological motives that might lead one to effect the 
reduction. But these motives hardly seem adequate and above all the reduction 
does not appear able to operate except after a long period of study; it thus 
appears as a skilled operation, which confers a sort of gratuitousness on it. 
Conversely, if the 'natural attitude' appears in its entirety as an effort that 
consciousness makes to escape from itself by projecting itself into the me and 
absorbing itself in it, and if this effort is never completely rewarded, if it merely 
needs an act of simple reflection for conscious spontaneity to tear itself 
brusquely away from the I and give itself as independent, the epoche is no longer 
a miracle, it is no longer an intellectual method, a skilled procedure. It is an 
anguish that imposes itself on us and that we cannot avoid, it is at one and the 
same time a pure event of transcendental origin and an accident that is always 
possible in our daily lives. 


This conception of the Ego is, in my view, the sole possible refutation of 
solipsism. 77 The refutation presented by Husserl in Formale und 


Transzendentale Logik and in the Cartesian Meditations does not appear to me 
capable of affecting a determined and intelligent solipsist. So long as the / 
remains a structure of consciousness, it will always remain possible to contrast 
the consciousness with its / on the one hand and all other existents on the other. 
And finally it is after all me who produces the world. It hardly matters if certain 
layers of this world necessitate, by their very nature, a relation to the other. This 
relation can be a simple quality of the world that I create and it in no way obliges 
me to accept the real existence of other /'s. 

But if the I becomes a transcendent, it participates in all the world's 
vicissitudes. It is not an absolute, it did not create the universe, it falls like other 
existences under the epoche; and solipsism becomes unthinkable as soon as the / 
no longer has any privileged position. Instead of being formulated as 'I exist 
alone as an absolute', it ought in fact to take the form, 'Absolute consciousness 
exists alone as absolute', which is obviously a truism. My I, indeed, is no more 
certain for consciousness than the I of other men. It is simply more intimate. 


Theoreticians of the extreme left have sometimes criticized phenomenology for 
being an idealism, and drowning reality in the flood of ideas. But if idealism is 
the philosophy without evil of M.Brunschvicg, if it is a philosophy in which the 
effort of spiritual assimilation 78 never encounters any external resistances, in 
which suffering, hunger, and war are diluted into a slow process of unification of 
ideas, then nothing can be more unjust than to call phenomenologists 'idealists'. 
Indeed, it has been centuries since philosophy has given evidence of such a 
realist trend. Phenomenologists have immersed man back in the world, they have 
restored to his anguish and his sufferings, and to his rebellions too, their full 
weight. Unfortunately, as long as the / remains a structure of absolute 
consciousness, phenomenology can always be criticized for being a 'refuge 
doctrine', for still removing a certain portion of man from the world, and thereby 
turning his attention away from the real problems. In my view, this criticism is 
deprived of its justification if we make of the me an existent that is rigorously 
contemporary with the world, and whose existence has the same essential 
characteristics as the world. I have always thought that such a fertile working 
hypothesis as historical materialism in no way required as a basis the absurdity 
of metaphysical materialism. 79 It is, in fact, not necessary for the object to 
precede the subject for spiritual pseudo-values to vanish and ethics to rediscover 
its bases in reality. It is sufficient for the me to be contemporary with the World 
and for the subject-object duality, which is purely logical, to disappear 
definitively from philosophical preoccupations. The World did not create the me, 
the me did not create the World, they are two objects for the absolute, 
impersonal consciousness, and it is through that consciousness that they are 
linked back together. This absolute consciousness, when it is purified of the I, is 
no longer in any way a subject, nor is it a collection of representations; it is quite 


simply a precondition and an absolute source of existence. And the relation of 
interdependence that it establishes between the me and the World is enough for 
the me to appear 'in danger' before the world, for the me (indirectly and via the 
intermediary of the states) to draw all its content from the World. Nothing 
further is needed to enable us to establish philosophically an absolutely positive 
ethics and politics. 80 


Notes referred to by numerals translate the annotations of Sylvie Le Bon to her 
edition of La Transcendance de I'Ego (Paris: Vrin, 1965). Those referred to by 
small letters translate Sartre's own original notes. (Trans.) 

1 Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Analytic, book 1 , ch. 2, section 
2, §16, 'The original synthetic unity of apperception', translated by Norman Kemp 
Smith (London: Macmillan, 1963), p. 152. See also §§17-18, pp. 155-8. 

2 Neo-Kantianism is represented by Lachclicrand Brunscln icg: cmpirio-criticism by 
Mach; as for Victor Brochard (1848-1907), he was not just a historian of ancient 
philosophy: he was the author of a thesis, De I'erreur (1879) and various articles 
on philosophy and ethics, collected at the end of his work Etudes de philosophie 
ancienne et de philosophie moderne (Paris: Vrin, 1954). 

3 Boutroux, La Philosophie de Kant, a lecture course delivered at the Sorbonne in 
1896-97 (Paris: Vrin, 1926). 

a I will here be using the term 'consciousness' to translate the German word 
Bewusstsein which simultaneously means both the total consciousness, the monad, 
and each moment of that consciousness. The expression 'state of consciousness' 
strikes me as imprecise because of the passivity it introduces into consciousness. 

4 In Imagination (first published in French: Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 
1936), Sartre, in connection with the specific problem of the image, brings out the 
general characteristics of the philosophical revolution represented by the 
appearance of phenomenology. As here, he insists on the fruitfulness of a method 
that aims to be descriptive, even if the 'facts' delivered to him by intuition are 

'Phenomenology is a description of the structure of transcendental consciousness 
based on intuition of the essences of these structures' {Imagination: A 
Psychological Critique, trans. Forrest Williams (Ann Arbor: University of 
Michigan Press, 1962), p. 128). 

5 Husserl develops this project in Philosophy as Rigorous Science ( first published in 
1911). English translation in Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, trans. 
Quentin Lauer (New York, Evanston, IL and London: Harper Torchbooks, Harper 
and Row, 1965). 

6 'In immediately intuitive acts we intuit an "it itself": Ideas Pertaining to a Pure 
Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, vol. I, General 


Introduction to a Pure Phenomenology, trans. F.Kersten (The Hague, Boston and 
London: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982) [hereafter called Ideas, I: Trans.], §43, p. 93. 

Husserl also says that the thing is given to us 'in flesh and blood', or on other 
occasions 'originally', 'in an original form', 
b Husserl would say: a science of essences. But for the point of view which we are 
adopting, this comes to the same thing. 

7 A/de facto science' and a 'science of essences', or else 'eidetic science': these 
expressions here come to the same tiling. Indeed, Sartre is not at this point referring 
to the contrast — essential though it be — between empirical fact and essence, but to 
the more general contrast between de facto and de jure problems. Now, fact and 
essence appear together as something given, and the essential thing (here) is 
precisely that phenomenology is the science of a given (material or ideal, it barely 
matters just yet), as opposed to the Kantian perspective, which raises the pure de 
jure question. It is because phenomenology aims at something given, a set of facts, 
that it is a descriptive science. Furthermore, if it is true that Husserl wanted to 
found a 'science of essences' or an 'eidetic' science, we must above all bear in 
mind here that these essences are delivered with certainty, and can be taken in by 
the gaze immediately, exactly in the same way as objects would be. From this point 
of view, they are (ideal) facts. 

'The essence (Eidos) is a new sort of object. Just as the datum of individual or 
experiencing intuition is an individual object, so the datum of eidetic intuition is a 
pure essence.... Seeing an essence is also precisely intuition, just as an eidetic 
object is precisely an object' {Ideos, I, section I, ch. 1, 'Matter of fact and essence', 
§3, p. 9) 

8 The epoche, the phenomenological reduction, is the bracketing of the natural 
attitude, always imbued as it is with a spontaneous realism. Sartre thus, following 
Husserl, also designates this natural consciousness by the expression 'ultramundane 
consciousness'. On reduction and reductions, see Ideas, I, section 2, ch. 4, §§56 to 
62, pp. 131-43; and the Cartesian Meditations, §8 {Cartesian Meditations: An 
Introduction to Phenomenology, trans. Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Martinus 
Nijhoff, 1960), pp. 18-21. 

9 Those of Ideas, I, mainly. 

10 'Consequently for me, the meditating Ego who, standing and remaining in the 
attitude of epoche, posits exclusively himself as the accept-ance-basis of all 
Objective experiences and bases, there is no psychological Ego and there are no 
psychical phenomena in the sense proper to psychology, i.e., as components of 
psychophysical men' {Cartesian Meditations, §1 1, pp. 25-6). 

1 1 The problem is already raised by Husserl in § 1 1 of the Cartesian Meditations 
already quoted, entitled 'The psychological and the transcendental Ego'. Indeed, in 
the passage quoted in note 10, Husserl immediately adds, 'By phenomenological 
epoche 1 reduce my natural human Ego and my psychical life — the realm of my 

/ ' nee to m\ li isccndcnlal heno nological Ego, the 

realm of transcendeiital-plieiioiiienological self-experience'. And of this 
transcendental Ego he claims that one can never reduce it. 

12 Sartre designates by the concept / the personality in its active aspect; by me he 
means the concrete psycho-physical totality of the same personality. It is clearly 
understood that the / and the me are united, and constitute the Ego, of which they 
are merely the two faces. 


The status of the Ego, which is here still unsettled, becomes firmer in Being and 
Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology, trans. Hazel E.Barnes 
(London: Methuen, 1958), pp. 162-5. 

13 The consequences listed constitute the basis of the thesis that Sartre will defend, in 
opposition to the last works of Husserl. 

14 Logical Investigations, vol. II, trans. J.N.Findlay (London: Routledge, 2001), V, §8, 
'The pure Ego and awareness ('Bewusstheit'). Husserl's evolution can be sensed at 
work within the Logical Investigations themselves. Indeed, Husserl writes, 'I must 
frankly confess, however, that I am quite unable to find this ego, this primitive, 
necessary centre of relations' (p. 92). To which he (unfortunately) added in the 
second (1913) edition, the following note: 'I have since managed to find it, i.e. 
have learnt not to be led astray from a pure grasp of the given through corrupt 
forms of ego-metaphysic' (p. 353 n. 8). 

15 Cf Ideas, I, §80, for the image of the ray (p. 191). and especial!) § 57: The 
question of the exclusion of the pure Ego' (p. 132). See the fourth Cartesian 
Meditation, relative to the problems constitutive of the transcendental Ego. 

16 For Sartre, the hypothesis of a transcendental / as a personal locus that founds and 
unifies every consciousness is superfluous. For him, there is merely a pre-personal 
or impersonal transcendental field. 

Transcendent and transcendental are not taken by him in the Kantian sense, but 
rather in the Husserlian sense, as it is defined for example in §11 of the Cartesian 
Meditations. The transcendental field is the field that is constituted by the 
originating consciousnesses that bestow meaning. It needs to be pointed out that 
Sartre was to abandon this term (as too Kantian?), which practically disappeared in 
Being and Nothingness. There, consciousness is considered in different ways 
depending on whether it is unreflective or reflective. There is no longer any Ego or 
even any transcendental field. Conversely, the transcendence of the Ego remains a 
fundamental idea. The notions of transcendence and originality, indeed, are 
correlative. 'Transcendence is the constitutive structure of consciousness' (Being 
and Nothingness, p. xxxvii), i.e. consciousness is from the start torn away from 
itself to move out towards objects. This is the meaning of the well-known phrase, 
'All consciousness is consciousness of something.' Cor-relatively, the things which 
are called transcendent to consciousness are the world and its objects (physical, 
cultural, etc.), insofar as they are, by definition, outside consciousness, and the 
absolute Other for consciousness. 

17 On intentionality, see Ideas, I, section 3, ch. 2, §84: 'Intentionality as principal 
theme of phenomenology'; and also Sartre's article, 'Une idee fondamentale de la 
"phcnomcnologie" de Husserl: l'intention-nalite', Nouvelle Revue francaise, 52, no. 
304, pp. 29-32; translated by Joseph Fell as 'Intentionality: A fundamental idea in 
Husserl's phenomenology'. Journal of the lihtish Society for I'lieno/iienology, 1. 
no. 2, pp. 4-5. 

18 On the self-constituting of phenomenological time, see the lectures On the 
Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893-1917), §39, p. 84, 
entitled 'The double intentionality of retention and the constitution of the flow of 
consciousness', where Husserl explains that 'the flow of consciousness constitutes 

19 See the fourth Cartesian Meditation, §37: 'Time as the universal form of all 
egological genesis' (p. 75). 


20 'By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through Itself, that is, 
that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it 
must be formed' (Spinoza, Ethics, trans. Edwin Curley, Part I, definition 3 
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996), p. 1). Sartre says: 'consciousness is 
consciousness through and through. It can be limited only by itself {Being and 
Nothingness, p. xxxi). 

21 'But precisely because the question concerns an absolute of existence and not of 
knowledge, it is not subject to that famous objection according to which a known 
absolute is no longer an absolute because it becomes relative to the knowledge 
which one has of it. In fact the absolute here is not the result of a logical 
construction on the ground of knowledge but the subject of the most concrete of 
experiences. And it is not at all relative to this experience because it is this 
experience. Likewise it is a non-substantial absolute' {Being and Nothingness, p. 

22 'Transcendence is the constitutive structure of consciousness; that is... 
consciousness is born supported by a being which is not itself. . . . Consciousness 
implies in its being a non-conscious and transphenomenal being.... Consciousness 
is a being such that in its being, its being is in question insofar as this being implies 
a being oilier than itself (Being and Nothingness, p. xxxviii). 

23 'Every positional consciousness of an object is at the same time a non-positional 
consciousness of itself {Being and Nothingness, p. xxix). 

24 'In the psychical sphere there is, in other words, no distinction between appearance 
and being.... Appearances themselves... do not constitute a being which itself 
appears by means of appearances lying behind it' {Philosophy as Rigorous Science, 
p. 106). 

'Modern thought has realized considerable progress by reducing the existent to 
the series o ('appearances w Inch manifest it.. .. The being of an existent is exactly w hat 
it appears. Thus we arrive at the idea of the phenomenon such as we can find, for 
example in the "phenomenology" of Husserl or of Heidegger — the phenomenon 
can be studied and described as such, for it is absolutely indicative of itself {Being 
and Nothingness, p. xxii). 

25 This trend is indicated by the fourth Cartesian Meditation, which discusses 'The 
full concretion of the Ego as monad' (p. 67), and the fifth Meditation, entitled 
'Uncovering of the sphere of transcendental being as monadological 
intersubjectivity' (p. 89). 

26 The difficulties entailed by the Husserlian conception of transcendental 
consciousness as an 'arche-region' have recently been recalled in an article by 
Jacques Derrida published in the Etudes philosophiques (1963): 
'Phanomenologische Psychologie. Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1925, by Ed. 
Husserl'. In particular. Derrida writes: 'My transcendental / is radically different, 
as Husserl makes clear, from my natural, human /; and yet nothing distinguishes 
the two. The (transcendental) / is not an other. Above all, it is not the metaphysical 
or formal ghost of the empirical me. This would lead to a criticism of the 
theoretical image, and the metaphor of the / as an absolute spectator of its own 
psychical me, all that analogical language which we sometimes have to use to 
indicate the transcendental reduction and to describe that strange "object", the 
psychical me standing over against the absolute transcendental Ego.' 


27 For example, in Appendix XII: 'Internal consciousness and the grasping of 
experiences' (pp. 130-3). 

28 With the 'I am', I grasp an apodictic certainty, as Husserl also puts it in the 
C 'artesian Meditations. 

29 To summarize, a phenomenological analysis of consciousness will distinguish 
between three degrees of consciousness: 

1 a first degree on the level of the unrefleeted consciousness, non- 
self-positing, since it is self-consciousness as consciousness of 
a transcendent object. 

With the Cogito: 

2 a second degree: the reflecting consciousness is non-self- 
positing, but it does posit the reflected consciousness. 

3 a third degree, which is a sccond-dcgrcc Ihctic acl. by which 
the reflecting consciousness becomes self-positing. 

In other words, on the level of the second degree, there are unrefleeted acts 
of reflection. 

As for the autonomy of the unrefleeted consciousness, it is strongly affirmed in 
the Introduction to Being and Nothingness. 

30 In the introduction to Ideas, I, Husserl declares that phenomenology demands 'a 
new style of attitude... which is entirely altered in contrast to the natural attitude in 
experiencing and the natural attitude in thinking' (p. xix); and, in §31, entitled 
'Radical alteration of the natural positing' (p. 57), he makes this affirmation more 

31 Husserl appeals to non-thetic memories of non-thetic consciousnesses in On the 
Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. 

32 E.B.Titchener (1867-1927) was an Anglo-American psychologist. A pupil of 
Wundt, he devoted himself to experimental psychology, and had an especial 
influence on Anglo-Saxon psychology. Among his works are: An Outline of 
Psychology (1896); Text-Book of Psychology (quoted here) (1910); Experimented 
Psychology (1927). 

33 Sartre is here referring to the phenomenological theory of perception by 'profiles' 
or 'sketches', in German, Abschattungen [usually translated as 'adumbrations': 
Trans.]. See Ideas, I, §41: 'Of essential necessity there belongs to any "all-sided", 
continuously, unilarily, and self-confirming experimental consciousness of the 
same physical thing a multifarious system of continuous multiplicities of 
appearances and adumbrations in which all objective moments falling within 
perception with the characteristic of being themselves given "in person" are 
adumbrated by determined continuities' (p. 87). 

Sartre contrasts though! and perception, for example, in The Imaginary: A 
Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination (trans. Jonathan Webber 
(London and New York: Routledge, 2003), Part one, eh. 1, section 3): 'They are 
radically distinct phenomena: one is knowledge conscious of itself, which places 
itself at once in the centre of the object; the other is a synthetic unity of a 
multiplicity of appearances, which slowly serves its apprenticeship.' 


34 Husserl seems to have had a presentiment of this, but he does not dwell on this 
intuition. However, in §54 of Ideas, I, he had written: 'Certainly a consciousness 
without an animated organism and, paradoxical as it sounds, also without a psyche, 
a consciousness which is not personal, is imaginable. That is to say, a stream of 
consciousness in which the intentional unities of experience, organism, psyche, and 
empirical Ego-subject did not become constituted, in which all of these experiential 
concepts, and therefore the concept of a mental process in the psychological sense 
(as a mental process of a person, an animate Ego), were without any basis and, in 
any case, without any validity' (pp. 127-8). 

35 Husserl was never to recognize this. 

'Among the universal essential peculiarities pertaining to the transcendentally 
purified realm of mental processes the first place is due the relationship of each 
mental process to the "pure" Ego. Laeh "cogito". each act in a distinctive sense, is 
characterized as an act of the Ego, it "proceeds from out of the Ego", it "lives" 
"actionally" in the act. ... No excluding can annul the form of cogito and cancel out 
the "pure" subject of the act: the "being directed to", the "being busied with", the 
"taking a position toward", the "undergoing", the "suffering from", necessarily 
includes in its essence this: that it is precisely a ray "emanating from the Ego" or, in 
a reverse direction of the ray, "toward the Ego" — and this Ego is the pure Ego; no 
reduction can do anything to it', Ideas, I, §8o, The relationship of mental processes 
to the pure Ego' (pp. 190-1). 

Likewise, cf. the first Cartesian Meditation, §8, p. 21: after the reduction, 1 again 
find myself as 'the pure ego, with the pure stream of my cogitationes'. 

36 The different sorts of certainty are defined in Ideas, I, §3, then in the first Cartesian 
Meditation, §6. 

37 Litgen Fink, Die pluiiioincnologisolic Philosophic L.llusscrls in dor gegenwartigen 
Kritik(Kantstudien, 1933). 

38 'Self-love is love of oneself and of all things in terms of oneself; it makes men 
worshippers of themselves and would make them tyrants over others if fortune 
gave them the means. It never pauses for rest outside the self, and, like bees on 
flowers, only settles on outside matters in order to draw from them what suits its 
own requirements. Nothing is so vehement as its desires, nothing so concealed as 
its aims, nothing so devious as its methods; its sinuosities beggar the imagination, 
its transformations surpass metamorphoses, its complications go beyond those of 
chemistry. No man can plumb the depths or pierce the darkness of its chasms' (La 
Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1693 supplement, trans. Leonard Tancock, §563 
(Harmonds-worth: Penguin, 1959), p. 112). 

39 On the double form of existence always possible for a consciousness, and 
guaranteeing the autonomy of the pre-reflective, see Being and Nothingness, 

40 The phenomenological description of desire is developed in Being and 
Nothingness, pp. 382-98. 

41 Likewise, emotion is an unreflected kind of behaviour, not unconscious, but 
conscious of itself non-thetically, and its manner of being non-thetically self- 
conscious lies in the way it transcends itself and gains purchase on the world 
through its grasp of, as it were, the quality of things. Emotion is 'a transformation 
of the world', says the Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, trans. Philip Mairet 
(London: Methuen, 1962), p. 63. 


42 On the problem posed by the Freudian unconscious, see, in Being and Nothingness, 
the chapter 'Bad faith' (pp. 47-70); and Part 4, ch. 2, section 1: 'Existential 
psychoanalysis' (pp. 557-75). See note 74 below. 

43 Sartre always insisted on this autonomy of the unreflected consciousness, which 
finds its basis in the essential intentionality of consciousnesses. This conception of 
the ontological priority of the unreflected over the reflected remains central in his 
later works, in particular Imagination (the image is an ante-predicative certainty), 
the Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, The Imaginary, and Being and 
Nothingness, because it constitutes the only radical means of eliminating all 

44 It is in the same way that the rake, replacing the desirable-object with his desire 
itself as being desirable, thereby immediately poisons that very desire. In any case, 
he forces it to undergo a fundamental alteration vis-a-vis naive desire. Cf. Being 
and Nothingness, p. 385. 

45 The terms 'noema' (noematic) and 'noesis' come from Husserl's phenomenology. 
Sec Ideas, I, section 3, ch. 3. Sartre gives a deliberately simplified definition of it in 
Imagination, ch. 4, p. 139: 'For haviny put the world "between parentheses", the 
phenomenologist does not lose it. The distinction "consciousness world" loses its 
meaning, and the line is now drawn differently. The set of real elements of the 
conscious synthesis (the hylc and the various intentional acts which animate them) 
are distinguished from the "meaning" or "sense" which inhabits the consciousness. 
The concrete psychic reality is to be called noesis, and the indwelling meaning, 
noema. For example, "perceived-blossoming-tree" is the noema of the perception I 
now have of it. This "noematic meaning" which belongs to every real 
consciousness, however, is itself nothing real' (p. 139). 

c Cf. Zeitbewusstsein, passim [i.e. Husserl, On the Phenomenology of the 
Consciousness of Inner Time: Trans.]. 

46 The problem of the Ego's relation to states, actions and qualities, which this second 
part thematizes, is briefly taken up in Being and Nothingness in the chapter 
'Temporality', pp. 162-5. 

47 Cf. hatred as a possibility of my relation to others, Being and Nothingness, pp. 410- 

48 Erlebnis: lived experience, intentional lived experience. 

For the meaning of this term, Sartre, in a note in Imagination (p. 160, n. 14), refers 
to Ideas, I, §36, and adds: "The term Erlebnis, untranslatable into French, comes 
from the verb erleben. Etwas erleben means "to live something". Erlebnis has 
approximately the meaning of vecu [lived through] as used in Bergsonian 

49 'The certain' and 'The probable' constitute the first two of four sections of the 
study on The Imaginary. Only my 'consciousnesses-of are certain in their 
spontaneous leaping forth towards things; the paradox of these first-degree 
consciousnesses is that they are simultaneously grasped as pure interiorities and as 
breaking out towards the things that are outside. Apart from these consciousnesses, 
every object, as an object for consciousness, whether it be my hatred or this table, 
will also remain dubious, since no intuition will ever be able to deliver it to me 
once and for all in its totality. 

50 Sartre here acknowledges for the first time the appearance of magical processes in 
consciousness. He would go on to study (in the Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions 


of 1939) the strange magical behaviour constituted by emotion, the unreflected 
flight of a consciousness in the face of a world which violently invades it and 
which it would like to annihilate. 

51 On the possible, cf. Being and Nothingness: 'The for-itself and the being of 
possibilities', p. 95. On potentiality, see Being and Nothingness, pp. 195-7. 

d But it may also be aimed at and reached via the perception of types of behaviour. I 
hope to explain elsewhere [n. 52] my thinking on the fundamental identity of all 
psychological methods. 

52 Sartre was here referring to his treatise on phenomenological psychology, entitled 
La Psyche, written in 1937-8. Having discovered the notion of 'psychical object', 
as sketched out in the study on the Ego, he developed it by applying it to various 
states or feelings. But this psychology did not satisfy him, in particular because he 
was still lacking the idea of 'nihilation', which was to be discovered in Being and 
Nothingness. La Psyche was thus abandoned. Only one extract was published in 
1939: the Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions. 

On this point, see the information given in Simone de Beauvoir's The Prime of 
Life, trans. Peter Green (London: Andre Deutsch and Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 
1962), pp. 253-6. 

53 Being and Nothingness explicitly takes off from the conclusions of this essay. In 
the chapter entitled 'The self and the circuit of selfness', the Ego definitively 
moves over to the domain of the in-itself, which becomes the raison d'etre of its 
transcendence, as the latter is established here. 'In an article in Recherches 
philosophiques, I attempted to show that the Ego does not belong to the domain of 
the for-itself. I shall not repeat this here. Let us note only the reason for the 
transcendence of the Ego: as a unifying pole of Erlebnisse the Ego is in-itself, not 
for-itself. If it were of the nature of consciousness, in fact, it would be to itself its 
own foundation in the translucency of the immediate. But then we would have to 
say that it is what it is not and that it is not what it is, and this is by no means the 
mode of being of the "I". In fact the consciousness which I have of the "I" never 
exhausts it, and consciousness is not what causes it to come into existence; the "I" 
is always given as having been there before consciousness — and at the same time 
as possessing depths which have to be revealed gradually. Thus the Ego appears to 
consciousness as a transcendent in-itself, as an existent in the human world, not as 
of the nature of consciousness' {Being and Nothingness, p. 103). 

e Ideas, I, §131, pp. 313-16. 

54 Because it is by no means certain that in the perception of a thing, each 
consciousness (of the qualities of that thing) is immediately related to anything 
other than itself. In fact, it is absolutely not the case, since precisely there is an 
autonomy of the unreflected consciousness. 

55 Husserl takes the example of a melody in his On the Phenomenology of the 
Consciousness of Internal Time, §14, pp. 37-8. 

f Husserl in any case is perfectly well aware of this kind of synthetic totality, to 
which he devoted a remarkable study: Logical Investigations, II, Investigation III, 
pp. 435-89. 

56 For the world to appear in the background of things, our habitual categories of 
apprehension of the world have to be broken down. In fact, their grasp gives us 
access only to the spatio-temporal world of science. But it happens that suddenly 
another world arises, as a naked presence, behind the broken instruments. 


57 This is another reference to La Psyche. Cf. The Imaginary, Part 4, section 3 ('The 
pathology of the imagination'). See also note 52, above. 

58 Thus desire is described by Sartre in Being and Nothingness as 'an attitude aiming 
at enchantment' (p. 394). 

59 'The ambiguity is brought to light in Bergson's theory of the consciousness which 
endures and which is a "multiplicity of interpenetration". What Bergson is touching 
on here is the psychic state, not consciousness conceived as for-itself (Being and 
Nothingness, p. 166). 

60 This is why the Ego plays a great role in the self-imprisonment of consciousness, 
i.e. in the types of behaviour associated with bad faith. Cf. Being and Nothingness, 
Part l,ch. 2, pp. 47-70. 

61 Sartre would later analyse, in The Imaginary, the implications of the activities of 
consciousness which proceeds to rcil'y meaning. Expressive mimicry, for instance, 
can include within itself a relationship of possession, in the magical sense, between 
the meaning to be conveyed and the matter in which it takes form (face, flesh, body): 
'an imitator is one possessed' (Part one, ch. 2, section 3). 

62 Thus 'the desire compromises me; I am the accomplice of my desire' (Being and 
Nothingness, p. 388). 

63 Cf. the introductory section, 'The pursuit of being', in Being and Nothingness, pp. 

64 In the 'unity of a single concrete cogitatio', according to Ideas, I, §38, p. 79. 

65 In an article in the Nouvelle Revue francaise, perhaps 'Sur un nouveau mal du 
siecle', published in 1924, reprinted in Essais critiques (Paris: Gallimard. 1931), p. 
14; it is a frequent theme for Marcel Arland; see in the same collection his essay on 
Oscar Wilde, p. 118. 

g As in the case where the passionate man [n. 66], attempting to convey the fact that 
he does not know how far his passion will take him, says, T am afraid of myself." 

66 Cf. the analysis of the passionate man by Simone de Beauvoir in The Ethics of 
Ambiguity, trans. Bernard Frechtman (New York: Citadel Press, 1967), pp. 62-7; 

in. I B( in > .in,, \ >tliin ;in s Part 1, ch. 2: 'Patterns of bad faith', p. 55. 

67 Because 'it is as an object that I appear to the Other', as is shown in Being and 
Nothingness, p. 222. 

68 Cf. Being and Nothingness, Part 3, ch. 2, 'The body', pp. 306-39. 'My body's 
depth of being is for me this perpetual "outside" of my most intimate "inside"' (p. 

69 On the enterprise of Descartes, see the article in Sartre's Situations I (Paris: 
Gallimard, 1947), entitled 'La liberie cartesienne', pp. 314-35. 

70 Leon Brunschvicg, 'Vie interieure et vie spirituelle', a paper delivered at the 
Naples International Philosophy Congress (May 1924), published in the Revue de 
metapliysique et de morale (April-June 1925), then republished in Ecrits 
philosophiques, vol. II (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1954). 

71 All Erlebnis is accessible to reflection: this affirmation explains the renewal of 
psychology due to the phenomenological descriptive method. It indeed founds the 
reflective studies of the unreflected: studies of emotion, or the imaginary, or even 
ti 'i if Bein , , \ ungi s these laller are. in fact, nothing other than the 
implementation of the conclusions of The Traiiseeiideni e of the Ego. The same was 
true of the unpublished study on La Psyche. 

72 Sartre is here alluding to the Freudians. 


73 It seems that, at the time Sartre was writing the Transcendence (1934), he was still 
not giving to the concept of liberty the importance and range that it would have in 
Being and Nothingness. How otherwise are we to understand a sentence such as, 
'Consciousness takes fright at its own spontaneity because it senses that it lies 
beyond freedom'? Freedom, here, is understood on analogy with responsibility and 
will, which have been alluded to, i.e. it is restricted to the transcendent sphere of 
ethics. Consequently, Sartre can see in freedom, as his words in The Transcendence 
of the Ego put it, a 'special case' within the transcendental field constituted by 
immediate spontaneities. Freedom is to spontaneity what the Ego and psychical life 
in general are to the impersonal transcendental consciousness. 

In Being and Nothingness, freedom and spontaneity have come together. 
Freedom has become coextensive with the whole consciousness. Of course, 
freedom is also an ethical concept — it is even the fundamental concept of ethics — 
insofar as my act is an expression of it. But the free act is based on a more 
primitive freedom, which is none other than the very structure of consciousness in 
its pure translucency. More than being a concept, freedom is 'the stuff of my 
being', it pervades me through and through. 

Cf. Being and Nothingness, Part 4, ch. 1: 'Being and doing: Freedom', pp. 433- 

74 This example is taken from Pierre Janet's work entitled Les Nevroses. 

What Sartre has to say about it, and what he says about the unconscious in 
general in The Transcendence of the Ego, enables one to measure the distance that 
now separates him from his 1934 positions, as far as psychoanalysis is concerned. 
The importance of this change needs to be emphasized. The shift was already 
evident when Sartre published his study Baudelaire in 1947 (English translation by 
Martin Turnell (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1949)); today [1965: Trans.] he has 
totally reconsidered the problems raised by neuroses and psychoses, and would 
certainly not explain them in such a simplistic fashion as he did in 1934. In 
particular, he views as puerile his former interpretation of the neurotic attitude of 
the 'young bride' treated by Janet; he would no longer say that 'nothing in her 
upbringing, in her past, or in her character con serve as an explanation": he \\ ould here 
abandon the notion of explanation for that of dialectical understanding, which 
must necessarily start out from that nasi, that upbringing, thai character. 

Simone de Beauvoir in The Prime of Life gives an account of the reasons for 
which Sartre had previously rejected psychoanalysis; see pp. 22-3 and 106. 

75 Hence the onto logical possibility of behaving in bad faith. 

76 Cf. Being and Nothingness, Part 4, ch. 1, section 3: 'Freedom and responsibility': 
'Man being condemned to be free carries the weight of the whole world on his 
shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being' (p. 

77 Cf. Being and Nothingness, Part 3, ch. 1: 'The reef of solipsism' (p. 223ff), in 
particular section 3: "Husscrl. Hegel. Heidegger" (p. 233). where Sartre summarizes 
and criticizes the attempts to refute solipsism set out by Husserl in Formal and 
Transcendental Logic and Cartesian Meditations. Sartre acknowledges that the 
solution proposed in The Transcendence of the Ego is inadequate: 'Formerly I 
believed that I could escape solipsism by refuting Husserl's concept of the 
existence of the Transcendental "Ego". At that time I thought that since I had 
emptied my consciousness of its subject, nothing remained there which was 


privileged as compared to the Other. But actually although I am still persuaded that 
the hypothesis of a transcendental subject is useless and disastrous, abandoning it 
does not help one bit to solve the question of the existence of Others. Even if 
outside the empirical Lgo there is nothing other than the consciousness of that Lgo 
— that is, a transcendental field without a subject — the fact remains that my 
affirmation of the Other demands and requires the existence beyond the world of a 
similar transcendental field. Consequently the only way to escape solipsism would 
be here again to prove that my transcendental consciousness is in its very being 
affected by the extramundane existence of other consciousnesses of the same type. 
Because Husserl has reduced being to a series of meanings, the only connection 
which he has been able to establish between my being and that of the Other is a 
connection of knowledge. Therefore Husserl could not escape solipsism any more 
than Kant could' (p. 235). 

To get rid of solipsism once and for all, it is necessary to resort to Hegel's 
intuition that consists of making 'me depend on the Other in my being" (p. 237), 
and to radicalize that intuition. Sartre gives his conclusions on pp. 250-2. 

78 This is the 'alimentary philosophy' criticized in the article on intentional ity in the 
Nouvelle Rt\n, ■ mcaisi (sec note 17, above). 

79 Sartre subjects this absurd materialism to criticism in 'Materialisme et revolution', 
Situations, III, pp. 135-228. 

80 Various articles in Situations (I to VI), the Entretiens sur la politique, and 
especially the Critique of Dialectical Reason all bear witness to the continuity, in 
Sartre, of the ethical and political preoccupations that are here phenomenologically 
founded. Situations Vis now available as Colonialism and Neocolonialism, trans. 
Azzedine Haddour, Steve Brewer, and Terry Me Williams (London and New York: 
Routledge, 2001). 


Abschattungen 13, 23 

actions, constitution of xxiii, 26-7 


reflective 17; 

unreflected 17 
amour-propre 17, 18 
anguish xxvii, 46, 48-9,51 
apodictic evidence xii, xiv, xix 
Aristotle 18 
Arland, Marcel 38 

bad faith xviii, xxi 
Balzac, Honore de 25 

(S ill i.) xvi, xviii, 

being and seeming 22 
Bergson, Henri xxv, 34, 37 
Boutroux, Emile 2 
Brentano, Franz x 
Brochard, Victor 2 
Brunschvicg, Leon 43, 50 

Cartesian Meditations (Husscrl) xix, 7, 49, 

certainty 15, 23 
Christianity xxiv-xxv 

Cartesian 9; 

Husserl's 9; 

J and consciousness in 41-2; 
as reflective consciousness 9-16 

absolute viii, xv-xvi, xx, 50, 51; 
active 26; 

of consciousness 7-8; 

Husserl's definition 5; 
I and xv, xxvi, 49; 
impersonal xv, 51; 


of itself xx, 10, 18; 
non- positional 10; 
phenomenological conception 7; 
positional xx; 

reflected 10, 15, 16; 

reflecting 10-11,16; 

reflective 8, 9-16, 39,41; 

Sartre's conception of viii; 

second-order 30; 

spontaneous xvi, 26, 42, 46; 

states as transcendent unities of 21-6; 

thetic 18; 

totality of 39; 

transcendental 2-3, 4-5, 14, 15, 46; 

transparency of xv-xvi; 

unity and individuality 6; 

unreflected 16, 19-21, 30; 

unreflective xxi, 8, 16 
creation xxv, 32-3, 46, 48 
Critique of Pure Reason (Kant) ix 

de Beauvoir, Simone xii 
degeneration xxvi, 35 
degradation xxvi, 35, 37, 40 
Dcrrida, Jacques xx 
Descartes, Rene xi, xii, 9, 27, 42 
desire 18, 19, 20 
disgust 25-6 
distinctness, lack of 37 



doubt xi, 23, 27, 42 
dubitability 23, 31 


appearance 46; 
conslitulion of actions 26 7: 
constitution of the xxiii-xxvi, 21; 
constitution as pole of actions, states, 
and qualities 28-41; 
function of 48; 

I and consciousness in the Cogito 41- 

I and me 20-1 ; 

ideal unity of all states and actions 39; 

intuitive 41; 

passivity 33, 35; 

psychical 28, 41; 

psychological xiv-xv; 

pure xiii, xiv-xv, xx; 

qualities as optional unities of states 27- 


role xxiii; 
spontaneity 33^1; 

states as transcendent unities of 21-6, 

transcendence of the ix-x, xxiii, xxviii, 

emanation xxiv-xxv, 26, 32 
Fink on 15, 49; 

Husserl's use of term xi-xii, xiii, 4; 
Sartre on xv, xix, xxiii, xxvii, 4, 14, 50; 

Erlebnisse 13, 23-4, 26, 27, 35, 39-40 
existence, absolute 45 

Fink, Eugen 15,49 

Formale und Transzendentale Logik 

(Husserl) 50 
freedom 47 

Freud, Sigmund viii, xx, 25 

hatred xviii, xxiii-xxiv, 21-6, 32, 44 
Heidegger, Martin viii, xxii, 3 1 
Husserl, Edmund: 

Heidegger's relationship with xxii; 

phenomenological philosophy vii, x- 

Sartre's critique of xiii-xx, xxviii, 4-9, 
10, 11, 13, 14, 16-17, 29,37, 50; 
Sartre's relationship with viii, ix, xii- 

concept 41; 

and consciousness in the Cogito 41-2; 
existence 15-16; 

as formal structure of consciousness 

and me 20-1; 

primary structure of consciousness 49; 
of reflected consciousness 15; 
of reflective consciousness 15; 
theory of the formal presence of the 2- 

transcendent 16; 

transcendental xiii, xv, 3, 5, 7; 

of transcendental consciousness 15 
idealism 50-1 
Ideas (Husserl) 5, 14 
indistinctness 37 
inner life xvii-xviii, 43 
instantaneous, concept of the xix 
intentionality 6 
intentions 39 
intimacy 37, 38, 40,41 
introspection xvii-xviii, 24, 39 

consciousness and 45; 
of the Ego 31, 32, 39; 
Husserl on 4; 
I grasped by 9, 11, 15, 16; 
state grasped by 44; 
thinking grasped by 9, 11 
inwardness 6, 36-7, 41, 44, 45 

Janet, Pierre 47 

Kant, Immanuel ix, 2-4, 10, 16 
knowledge xvi 

La Rochefoucauld, Francois de 17, 20 


le Bon, Sylvie xx 

Logisclic Uiitersuclumgeii (Husserl) 5 
love 8, 44 

magic xxv-xxvi, 33, 35 
magical relations xxiii-xxiv, 26 
materialism xxviii, 5 1 

conception of 45; 
land 20-1; 

consciousness and xxiv, 26; 

as production of consciousness 5; 

psycho-physical 4-5, 28-9; 

theory of the material presence of the 


unknown 38; 

World and 51-2 

intuition based on 9; 

non-reflected 12; 

reflecting in 10; 

reflective 12-13; 

retrieval of experience xxi-xxii; 

spontaneous xxii; 

of unreflected consciousness 12 
motivation 42 
mystics 37 

Nausea (Sartre) xii 
nothing 43 

object-pole 29 

On the Phenomenology of the 

Consciousness oflntenal Time (Husserl) 

other minds, problem of xxvi, 50 

participation 35 
passivity 33, 35, 46 
personality 5 
phenomenologists 51 

essential principle 10; 

existentialized xxvi-xxviii; 

Husserl's x-xiii, 4; 

as 'refuge doctrine' 51; 

role xvi; 

Sartre's interest in vii, xxii-xxiii; 
objects 44; 

as study of consciousness 4; 

without reflection xxi-xxiii 
pity 18-19 
Plato 49 
positing xi, xxi 
procession xxv, 33 
Proust, Marcel 25 
psychical, the 4-5, 28, 41 
psychoanalysis viii, xxvii 
psychology 1, 20, 24, 25, 28, 45 
psycho-physical, the 4-5, 28-9, 41 


constitution of xxiii; 

as optional unities of states 27-8 

reality 2 

Recherches Philosophiqucs v ii 

criticisms of xvii; 

impure xviii-xix, 23-4; 

non-transparency of xvi xxi; 

phenomenological xxii; 

phenomenology without xxi-xxiil; 

power of 21-2; 

pure xviii-xix, xx, 23-4 
religious vocabulary xxiv-xxv 
representations 43, 51 
revulsion xix, 22 
Rimbaud, Arthur 46 

Sein und Zeit (Heidegger) 3 1 

conception of viii; 
constitution xiv-xv; 
discovery xvii; 
knowledge xxi, 38; 
love of 17; 
psychological xiii; 
psycho-physical xiii; 
understanding xxv 
sincerity xviii 

Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions 

(Sartre) xxvi 
solipsism xxvi, 50 
Spinoza, Baruch 7 

consciousness xxiv, xxvii, 26, 35, 42; 

of the Ego 33-4, 35; 

impersonal 46; 

individuated 46; 

involuntary 48; 

memory xxii; 

phenomenological description of 48; 
pure 45; 

of reflected consciousness 25; 
voluntary 48; 
will and 47 

constitution of xxiii; 
as objects 44; 

qualities as optional unities of 27-8; 

as transcendent unities of 

consciousness 21-6 
subject-object duality 51 
subject-pole 29 
subjectivity, nature of xxiv 

Textbook of Psychology (Titchener) 12 

actxxi, 10; 

consciousness 18 
Time and Free Will (Bergson) 34 
Titchener, E.B. 12 

from above 14; 

inwardness and 36; 


field 43; 

sphere 45 

of consciousness xv-xvi; 

reflective attitude and xvii 

unconscious 18, 19, 46 
unity of phenomena 48 


will, the 47 
witchcraft xxv 
World, the 30,51-2 
World War II xxviii 

War ' Diaries (Sartre) viii, x, xviii